Legal Hotline: Beer Delivery Ads

Legal Hotline: Beer Delivery Ads

PNA Legal Hotline

Q:  During the COVID lockdown, we’ve gotten several new clients who want to run beer delivery ads. Is beer delivery permitted and if so, can they advertise the service?

A: Yes, businesses licensed to sell alcohol can deliver a limited amount of beer as long as they have obtained the proper permit, and ads promoting the service are acceptable.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) issued an advisory opinion on the issue of beer delivery.  This opinion makes clear that licensees can obtain a permit to allow the transport of a limited amount of beer as long as certain conditions are met.   Although the permit is not new, the PLCB’s advisory opinion has clarified the law and the PLCB’s position on it.

The “Transport for Hire” permit allows those holding the permit, such as retail licensees like bars and restaurants, to deliver up to 192 ounces of beer (two six packs) per sale if the sale is completed on the licensed premises, the delivery vehicle is owned/leased by the licensee and operated by licensee employees.  There are a number of other requirements and limitations as well, but the PLCB opinion allows for the delivery of beer as long as the licensee follows the limitations imposed by law. For example, in addition to the permit requirements, licensees would have to ensure compliance with all other relevant laws such as purchase by and delivery to persons over the age of 21.

The PLCB’s advisory opinion does not specifically address advertising, but the law generally allows licensees to advertise prices and availability of products in newspapers.  If a licensee obtains a “Transport for Hire” permit and can legally deliver beer, the law allows them to advertise the service and prices, as long as the advertising otherwise complies with the advertising requirements imposed by the Liquor Code and PLCB regulations.

The general rules regarding alcoholic beverage ads are as follows:

Any advertisements of price may not contain any of the following:

  • False, deceptive or misleading statements;
  • Statements disparaging of the products of competitors; or
  • Monetary comparisons of brands.

Bars and Restaurants may:

  • Offer one drink special per day (drink of the day), which must end by midnight; and
  • Offer one four-hour happy hour each day, which must end by midnight.
    • Happy hour notice must be posted at the licensed premises seven days prior to happy hour.

Bars and Restaurants may not:

  • Offer 2 drinks for the price of one;
  • Sell an unlimited amount of alcohol for a set price (EXCEPT at catered events arranged at least 24 hours in advance);
  • Discriminate on the basis of sex, race, national origin, or disability (No “Ladies Nights” with specials exclusively for women); or
  • Offer any discount pricing (happy hour, drink of the day) after midnight.

The following restrictions apply to all advertisements for alcoholic or malt beverages:

  • The advertiser must be clearly identified in the ad.
  • No printed advertisements are permitted within 300 feet of a church, school or public playground.
  • No advertisements may be directed at minors to promote the illegal consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Obscene advertisements are prohibited.
  • Advertisements may not contradict the ideals of safety or safe driving programs.
  • Licensees may not advertise any alcoholic beverages if they do not actually have a sufficient supply of the beverages on hand to meet the normally expected demands.
  • Advertisements may not refer to the alcoholic strength of a malt beverage in any manner in order to induce consumers to buy the product. Terms such as “full strength,” “extra strength,” “high proof,” etc. are prohibited.

When reviewing beer delivery ads, newspapers could consider confirming that the advertiser actually holds a PLCB license and the proper permit, although newspapers are not required to do so by law.  Newspapers should also be wary of ads that indicate delivery of beer over the limit allowed by law (192 ounces/two six packs).

You can read the PLCB advisory notice on “Transport for Hire” permits here:

As always, this is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.  Please consult your newspaper’s attorney or the Legal Hotline at (717) 703-3080 with questions.