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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Prior to moving to Arizona, I lived in California and New York. Both of those states allowed patrons to bring a bottle of their own wine to dinner and pay a corkage fee. Restaurants in Arizona don’t allow the practice. I was told that state law prohibits bringing your own wine. Is it true, and what can be done to change it?
—William H., Tucson, Ariz.
It’s true. Arizona and some other states, like Colorado, New Mexico and Massachusetts, have laws that make it illegal to bring an alcoholic beverage into a restaurant unless you have an alcohol permit—the kind issued to producers or retailers. Every state decides its own liquor laws, and there are many variations; in some states it depends on whether or not you’re renting out part of the restaurant for a private event, and other states allow it only if the restaurant doesn’t have its own liquor permit.
Even if a state declares it legal to BYO, a restaurant isn’t required to allow this service, which is why it’s always best to call ahead and be clear on a restaurant’s policies.
What can be done to change it? Since these regulations are written into state law, you need to change the law. I’d start by contacting your state representative or senator. And good luck!
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