Can I Carry Beer Across State Lines?

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A man takes a swig of beer in the pasenger seat of a convertible as it drives down the road.

Once Prohibition ended, the power to regulate alcohol went into the hands of the individual states. This has led to an amalgam of varied laws across the country regarding how we can and cannot transport alcohol.

Even something as common as throwing a six-pack or two into your RV and taking off down the road is complicated by a sprawling array of laws. Let’s look at how alcohol laws work and whether you can carry beer across state lines.

Is It Illegal to Travel with Beer in My Vehicle If It’s Unopened?

No, it’s not illegal to travel with unopened containers of beer in your vehicle. Whether you’re in an RV or a typical passenger vehicle, you can travel with sealed containers of beer.

It’s the same as purchasing a six-pack at the grocery store and driving home with it in your car’s back seat. It’s good practice to keep even sealed containers of alcohol out of the driver’s area of the vehicle and stowed away as safely as possible. 

A man carries three six packs of beer to the checkout of a grocery store.

Is It Illegal to Travel with Beer in My Vehicle If It’s Open?

Every state in the country has its own laws regarding the legality of open beer containers or other alcoholic beverages. Most state laws say there should not be an open container of alcohol in any area of a vehicle where the driver or passengers have access.

When it comes to motor homes, many states allow for open containers stored in the living quarters. Several states allow for consumption by passengers in a moving vehicle for hire, such as a limousine or party bus.

A handful of states – such as Connecticut, Mississippi, and West Virginia – don’t regulate passenger consumption. In fact, Mississippi doesn’t even regulate driver consumption as long as the driver remains under the legal blood alcohol threshold.

Can I Carry Beer Across State Lines?

It’s legal to transport beer and other alcohol across state lines, as long as it’s for personal consumption. There are still a few dry counties across the country, but if you’re just driving through, it’s not usually going to be a problem. There are, however, a couple of caveats to this statement, which we’ll address soon.

A couple puts grocery bags in the back of their car.

How Much Alcohol Can I Carry Across State Lines?

As with open container statutes, the laws regarding how much alcohol you can transport from one state to another varies by state. In Oregon, the limit is two cases of beer.

If you’re driving into California, the limit is 60 liters or about five cases. If you’re traveling with a substantial amount of alcohol, it would be worth checking into the laws of specific states that you intend to enter. 

Which States Forbid the Transportation of Alcohol Across State Lines?

It’s not illegal to transport alcohol for personal consumption across state lines anywhere in the U.S. However, laws still vary state by state, and there are a few restrictions when transporting alcohol across certain state lines.

For example, Ohio law states that you must have a permit to transport alcohol in the state. In Pennsylvania, you must pay a tax to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) on any alcohol brought into the state, even for personal consumption.

Traveler’s Tip: Now you know traveling with a six pack over state lines won’t land you with a fine, but are you familiar with this move over law that could? 

Are There Consequences for Carrying Beer into States That Forbid It?

It sounds a little crazy that you’d have to get a permit to bring alcohol into Ohio or that you would have to go to the PLCB in Pennsylvania and pay tax on your alcohol. However, if you take the risk, there could be consequences.

If you’re caught without a permit in Ohio, you could get a citation. Authorities may confiscate the alcohol and hit you with other penalties as well. In Pennsylvania, anyone who brings alcohol in from out-of-state and doesn’t arrange to pay the taxes due with the PLCB could face a fine per container of alcohol, as well as confiscation of the alcohol.

A blonder women in a jean jacket crouches in a store to compare two bottles of beer.

Can I Ship Alcohol to Another State?

It’s illegal for individuals to ship alcohol to another state. Shipping services allow licensed shipping of alcohol, but this doesn’t apply to individual consumers. The United States Postal Service prohibits all shipments of alcohol, whether it be domestically or internationally.

UPS and FedEx allow licensed alcohol shippers to send alcohol across state lines. The licensees must follow all of the states’ laws from and to which they’re shipping, as well as other strict guidelines required by UPS and FedEx. But it’s not legal for individual consumers to ship alcohol across state lines via either of these delivery services.

In reality, if you have a small amount of alcohol for personal consumption, you’ll probably be fine in most states. However, you should be aware of the laws where you’re traveling. It’s still a risk that could come with consequences. Have you ever encountered strange liquor laws during your travels?

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