Gray area in liquor laws may need attention

City and state officials may find themselves needing to have a look at and make adjustments to laws governing liquor sales. Or so it seems from a couple of cases advancing through the courts in Minot and referenced yesterday in a Minot Daily News story.

It seems that a core issue is what constitutes a “sale.” If one, for example, makes a donation and subsequently is given a beer, has it been a sale? Does repeating that action several times then affect the legal definition? Does a witness – or witnesses – have to attest that they were not given a beer at a venue or event and told they must make a donation? What if one is at an event, makes a substantial donation and then has access to numerous beverages? Must there be specific delineation of rules of “pay” for an unlicensed provider to be guilty of a violation?

Other aspects include service hours. Can you be given a beer subsequent to making a donation after the hours when alcohol “sales” are legal? What about age requirements?

Currently, state and local laws don’t appear to address situations such as these that are the court system –  they may now exist in a gray area. While courts can set precedent in interpreting these laws, given authorities assert situations like these are increasingly common, perhaps lawmakers should step in and clarify intent and application.