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Beer Smugglers Beware!

Photo: Google Maps
Photo: Google Maps

Michigan’s Beer and Wine industry is big, and the state wants to not only protect those businesses, but make sure they get their cut.

The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association today applauded Gov. Rick Snyder for signing into law House Bill 4557. The legislation will increase penalties for illegally shipping beer or wine into the state, and bring those penalties in line with the penalties for illegally shipping spirits.

This legislation passed the Michigan Senate in late June and the House in May by overwhelming margins and with strong, bipartisan support. It makes illegally shipping large amounts of wine or beer into the state punishable by a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000, along with the possibility of four years in jail depending on the amount shipped.

“We applaud Gov. Snyder for swiftly signing this important legislation into law,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. “Illegal shipments of beer and wine have deprived the state of millions of dollars in much-needed tax revenue. By establishing these stricter penalties we can ensure everyone is playing by the rules.”

A comprehensive study conducted in 2015 by the Hill Group found an estimated $64 million worth of wine is purchased from third parties and shipped illegally into the state every year.

In January, Gov. Snyder signed Public Act 520 into law, which gave the state additional tools to monitor shipments of wine and beer into the state. This law requires common carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, to report to the state what was shipped and where it was purchased. This reporting will allow for better tracking of illegal alcohol shipments into the state and allow Michigan’s attorney general to identify the bad actors.

“These laws create the framework and necessary fines to end illegal alcohol shipments into the state,” said Nevins.

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