Law

The Complications of Liquor Law in Wyoming

fgwdLiquor laws are complicated. In Wyoming, the legal drinking age was 18 longer than any other state. Until 1988, it was legal to drink alcohol in Wyoming under the age of 18. As a result, until that day in ’88, teens from Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and North Dakota would regularly buy alcohol in Wyoming and drink it in their home state illegally. The thing is, the change was part of a mandate that steadily swept the nation. So there were many cultural echelons that came to adulthood used to a younger drinking age. When the change hit, most didn’t immediately go along with it, though many did.

Those reading this may be asking themselves: what prompted Wyoming to change the age? It’s not like the state is rich or densely populated; wouldn’t that bring in additional revenue? The answer is: of course! The reason Wyoming was forced to change their drinking age had to do with pressure from the federal government to withdraw its funding of roadways across the state, meaning highways and interstates would fall into disrepair and crumble over time. The state’s hands were tied, so they had to capitulate, and the legal drinking age was raised. But what a complicated debacle!

Substance law is often entangled in bureaucracy like this, and for good reason: the government has somewhat of an interest in taxing addictions. As a result, there is heavy scrutiny on many places of business that sell alcohol. The federal government threatened a whole state in order to get them playing ball with the rest of the country: change your laws, or lose your funding. Ergo, when an organization has acquired a liquor license, not only are they subject to the exceptionally high price associated with that license, they are also subject to regular scrutiny in regard to that license. It is for this reason that a cogent liquor license audit attorney is a virtual requirement for any establishment that is selling alcohol. Kids that were 18 years old used to be of legal drinking age, but now they are not; even though technically 18 is still the age of adulthood. Legally there are a lot of pitfalls both parties can easily fall into as regards liquor law, and that’s why any foray into this field requires the best representation on retainer.

The country is currently on the cusp of a recession, which is actually a good thing for establishments who regularly purvey “adult” beverages; but will definitely yield complications. The law isn’t always on the side of the little guy; especially as regards taxes. The federal government will put the squeeze on an entire state for legal reasons if they feel that’s the right thing to do. In a nationwide recession, when people naturally turn to drink as an anodyne, you can bet the IRS will be paying close attention to establishments selling alcohol, and be sure to tax them as much as they can get away with.

There may be no way to change laws as effectively as a federal mandate. There is indeed no longer sovereignty in states. But even with that consideration in mind, there is a way to keep such laws from binding you and your business in a way that makes no profit possible. You cannot afford to lose your liquor license over some filing minutiae that would have been easily caught by a competent attorney going over the books. So don’t. Think ahead; be the ant and not the grasshopper, and do everything you can to protect the business interests you have worked to attain.

Do you have any questions? Please ask.