Crafting Smart Regulation for Responsible Alcohol Delivery

Smart Regulation Infographic
Jul 01, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic created a stay-at-home environment in the U.S. that prompted consumers to minimize public contact and seek “doorstep” convenience for virtually everything, including alcohol.


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol delivery sales were allowed in 33 states throughout the U.S. by local, off-premise retailers, often in partnership with ecommerce platforms like Drizly. After only one month of sheltering in place, 45 states plus Washington, D.C. expanded alcohol delivery permissions to include on-premise retailers like restaurants. Some states allowed on-premise businesses to offer pre-mixed cocktails in addition to beer, wine and spirits for delivery to consumers and ecommerce platforms like Drizly saw as much as a 400 percent increase in traffic.


WSWA defines  responsible alcohol delivery as the direct transportation of alcohol from a licensed, local retailer to a consumer age 21 or older. In the wake of an increased need to meet consumer demand for doorstep convenience states and localities have expanded delivery to different channels; therefore, WSWA is expanding guidelines in order to promote smart and compliant practices.  Convenience and compliance can and should coexist.


WSWA advocates for local delivery from beverage alcohol licensees, with delivery executed by the their employee or a licensed third-party delivery company. The delivery person must conduct legal drinking age verification and provide beverages in safe, sealed containers with proper labeling.  


What began as Emergency expansions of alcohol delivery will likely occupy a permanent place in the “new normal” marketplace. At the time of this publication, there are currently 11 state legislatures contemplating permanent expansion of on-premise delivery privileges, and two states have already enacted bills.


As policymakers start to address this issue, many are asking: what do smart and responsible alcohol delivery regulations look like? Below are a few key features of WSWA’s guidelines for developing smart and responsible delivery policy and regulations:


Smart and responsible delivery regulations provide consumers with convenience from local retailers within their community. This might include language that stipulates deliveries must be made the “same day” product leaves a local retailer or include specific geographic perimeters.


Smart and responsible delivery regulations only allow for delivery by licensed retailers or licensed third-party delivery partners. The current U.S. alcohol supply chain is made up of licensed suppliers, licensed wholesalers and licensed retailers and is the safest in the world. Licensed suppliers maintain the highest standards and are united in keeping unlicensed actors out of the marketplace. In turn, licensed wholesalers ensure only approved products get to licensed retailers before making their way to consumers in a bottle or glass. Keeping consumer delivery licensed and local ensures this chain of custody to the consumer is never broken – meaning that dangerous, counterfeit products are kept out of the market and that any licensed product that must be recalled can quickly and efficiently.


Ensuring this level of trust with smart regulations results in consumer confidence in the industry and the best alcohol marketplace in the world. Smart regulation should include provisions that ensure licensed retailers can:

  • Verify that the recipient of the delivery is of legal drinking age;
  • Gather the signature of every legal delivery recipient;
  • Consider the totality of the circumstances of the delivery and use reasonable judgement before handing over the product (ex. not complete the delivery if there are minors drinking in the house or the recipient is already intoxicated).


Smart and responsible delivery regulations should provide clear definitions of both alcohol delivery and shipping. WSWA is opposed to the shipment of alcohol across state lines and defines shipping as moving alcohol from an off-premise retail store to a consumer by common carriers such as FedEx, UPS, DHL and GSO. Keep it local and licensed!


For more information about drafting responsible alcohol delivery regulation download Achieving Responsible Alcohol Delivery


Media Inquiries: Michael Bilello at


For more information about responsible alcohol delivery regulations in your state contact a member of the WSWA State Affairs Team. Contact Chelsea Crucitti at or Heather Calio at