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BYOB Laws in the DMV


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Do they have a license for beer/wine? Is it BYOB? Think I'm going tonight..

You won't be drinking if you do - read the article before you go, studbolt!  ;)

Interesting. Where I was in Pennsylvania, you were BYOB regardless of your license status, so the restaurant just decides if they want to allow it or not.

TIL In VA, it seems you have to have an ABC license to be BYOB. That's dumb. Over the last five years, I noted that Virginia's laws tended to be a lot less stupid than Pennsylvania's (like the ridiculousness of not being able to buy 6 packs at grocery and convenience stores, but you could go to a bar an buy them at jacked up prices; also, you could only buy 2 six packs from a bar. So, it's a real logic puzzle of how to buy exactly 18 beers, since at the beer stores they sell them only in 24 packs). Talk about byzantine ... Anyway, that's just plane silly...

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Interesting. Where I was in Pennsylvania, you were BYOB regardless of your license status, so the restaurant just decides if they want to allow it or not.

Although I've never quite understood why, PA has a reputation of being a "dream state" for diners with respect to BYOB.

It seems like most jurisdictions (and it really goes county-by-county, as well as state-by-state) have both consumer-friendly strengths, and anti-consumer weaknesses.

I'm not sure if county ordinances are adjuncts to state laws - I assume "county vis-a-vis state" is equivalent to "state vis-a-vis federal," i.e., it's okay for a county to pass a law as long as it doesn't override an existing state law - in other words, the larger the jurisdiction, the more priority it gets with regards to lawmaking.

(Is this correct?)

I would be very surprised if there wasn't a website or two that didn't have easy-to-follow, one-page summaries of local alcohol laws. If anyone finds one, please feel free to post it here.

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Although I've never quite understood why, PA has a reputation of being a "dream state" for diners with respect to BYOB.

I will always have very fond memories of dinners at a newly opened Audrey Claire enhanced by whatever we could afford to bring that night (sometimes beer, sometimes a reasonable bottle of wine).  The BYOB scene in Philadelphia is something I would kill to see replicated here.

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Corkage laws vary from in the DMV.  In DC any restaurant with an alcohol license may offer corkage if they wish.  If they do not have a license they may not.  This is because the District believes, probably rightly so, that there should be a trained liquor manager on site.  In Maryland, the state changed the law to permit corkage.  Any restaurant that wants one may apply for one as part of their ABC license.  Again, they have to have a license.  Of course, if they have a tavern license, they may not permit corkage.  The corkage permit is part of the annual license after this year.  Montgomery County has a list of corkage permits granted on their website, but it is difficult to find.  I am not sure of the laws in VA, but again corkage is permitted.

This is very different that states like PA, NJ, RI etc that permit BYOBs.  There you may only allow BYOB if you do not serve alcohol.  This comes from the days when alcohol licenses were very tightly controlled (and limited) and extremely expensive.

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