Mailing Date: May 14, 2009
Eagles Mere Country Club
RE: Bring Your Own Beverage (“BYOB”)
Dear Ms. Dailey:
ISSUE: This office is in receipt of your e-mail correspondence of April 16, 2009, wherein you indicate that you are contacting this office on behalf of Eagles Mere Country Club. You ask about any legal restrictions and state licensing requirements in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania concerning the ability of members bring their own wine into your establishment, as well as if your establishment may charge a corkage fee to handle any product brought onto the premises by its members.
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (“Board”) records indicate that the Eagles Mere Country Club, One Country Club Road, Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, holds Catering Club Liquor License No. CC-5638 (LID 4021).
OPINION: In response to your first question, there is nothing in the Pennsylvania Liquor Code or the Board’s Regulations that prohibits members from bringing their own alcohol (“BYOB”), whether or not the establishment possesses a license issued by the Board, so long as the alcohol is legally procured. Be advised, however, that sections 491 and 492 of the Liquor Code make it unlawful for any person to possess any beer, wine or spirits within Pennsylvania that have not been purchased through a Pennsylvania wine and spirits store, a licensed limited winery, or from an entity licensed to sell malt or brewed beverages for off-premises consumption. [47 P.S. § 4-491(2)].
Establishments may allow the BYOB practice only with wine legally procured in the Commonwealth, or they may prohibit patrons from bringing their own wine in to their restaurant. If the establishment chooses to prohibit the BYOB practice by a “house policy,” it must apply the policy uniformly without discrimination prohibited by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. [43 P.S. § 955].
Further, if a patron leaves the establishment’s premises with unfinished bottles of wine or liquor, the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, which is responsible for enforcement of the liquor laws in Pennsylvania, might require the person to prove that he or she had lawfully acquired the liquor or wine procured pursuant to Pennsylvania law. [47 P.S. § 4-491(3)]. It is suggested that people who bring their own wine or liquor into a restaurant should have in their possession a receipt reflecting the purchase of their wine or liquor.
In addition, because local ordinances may restrict BYOB establishments, you should check with the restaurant in advance to see if any such ordinances, limitations or corkage fees exist.
Please be advised that licensees are not permitted to furnish, serve or allow people to consume any alcoholic beverages during hours they may not legally sell alcoholic beverages. Commonwealth v. Mignogna, 120 Pa. Cmwlth. 405, 548 A.2d 689 (1988). Please further note that a licensee will still be held strictly liable for any violations of the Liquor Code or the Board’s Regulations (including providing alcohol to minors or persons who are visibly intoxicated) that occur on its premises, regardless of whether they involve alcohol provided by the licensee or brought onto the premises by a customer.
In response to your second question an establishment may, but need not, charge a corkage fee to handle any product brought onto the premises by its members.
Lastly, please feel free to examine the Board’s Advisory Opinions concerning bringing your own beverage by going to the Board’s Website at www.lcb.state.pa.us, “For Licensees,” “Legal Issues,” “Legal Advisory Search” and type in the words “bring your own beverage,” or term “BYOB,” which more specifically sets forth information concerning this issue.
Should you have any further questions or concerns regarding the Liquor Code or the Board’s Regulations, please do not hesitate to again contact this office.
THIS OPINION APPLIES ONLY TO THE FACTUAL SITUATION DESCRIBED HEREIN AND DOES NOT INSULATE THE LICENSEE OR OTHERS FROM CONSEQUENCES OF CONDUCT OCCURRING PRIOR TO ITS ISSUANCE. THE PROPRIETY OF THE PROPOSED CONDUCT HAS BEEN ADDRESSED ONLY UNDER THE LIQUOR CODE AND REGULATIONS. THE LAWS AND POLICIES ON WHICH THIS OPINION IS BASED ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE BY THE LEGISLATURE OR THE PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD.
Very truly yours,
FAITH S. DIEHL
cc: Pennsylvania State Police,
Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement
Jerry W. Waters, Sr., Director, Office of Regulatory Affairs
Jane Melchior, Director, Bureau of Licensing
LCB Advisory Opinion No. 09-176