I recently came back from California, where I visited many wineries. I brought back a few bottles of good stuff available only from the winery. They told me to order from the Internet if I wanted more. I checked their Web sites to order some specialty wines and was startled to find out that I need to get a permit from the liquor commission to have wine shipped to me from the winery. Why is Hawaii so restrictive?
Law allows purchase
of out-of-state wines
Hawaii is among 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, which allow limited direct shipments of wine for personal consumption.
Only 12 states have "reciprocal shipments" agreements, which allow direct shipments of wine between the states for individual consumption, according to the Wine Institute. The remaining states have laws making it unlawful to ship wine directly to a consumer, it said.
In Hawaii, individuals may bring in up to one gallon of wine or liquor, or two cases of beer, without a permit. People moving here may bring in more than five gallons "if such wine was of their own personal property and bought and stored outside Hawaii, provided that the liquor commission finds it is reasonable to do so."
Otherwise, the Hawaii law restricts individuals to a single shipment of no more than five gallons of wine and beer per year with a permit obtained, in Honolulu, from the city Liquor Commission.
By permit, you also are allowed to bring in a maximum five gallons (19 liters) of distilled liquor not available in the state for personal consumption.
You are limited to 3.2 gallons -- 12 liters -- if the liquor is an unsolicited gift.
There are other restrictions detailed in the law.
As to why there are such restrictions, liquor commission administrator Wallace Weatherwax explained that the sale of alcoholic beverages has been controlled since the days of Prohibition.
"The states determined they would control alcohol in terms of their sale, so they created the three-tier system -- manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer," he said. "If you allowed individual importation in large amounts, beyond restrictions, then that person could very well start retailing and wholesaling."
Permit applications are available to anyone 21 years or older at the Liquor Commission, 711 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 600. The liquor is supposed to be for household consumption only and no other person in the same household can obtain a permit in the same year. The permit cost is $10 and must be witnessed by a notary public, available in the commission office.
According to commission records, 17 such permits were issued in 1998 and 20 in 1997.
When asked how such activity is monitored, Weatherwax acknowledged enforcement is "catch as catch can."
However, you run the risk of getting caught, he said.
I am a 68-year-old Sri Lankan/Australian visitor. I arrived at Honolulu Airport about 11 p.m. Feb. 2 from Australia for a holiday. I took my eyes off the baggage cart for just a few seconds when my briefcase was stolen. Inside were some personal, irreplaceable items, including recent family photos; an album of photos of my 95-year-old mother, my deceased wife, my daughter's wedding and my three grandchildren; address book; passport; airline tickets; health insurance policy; camera; new pair of spectacles; diary; electronic organizer; plus cash and traveler's checks worth $5,700. If you find any of these personal items, please send them to me, collect mail, c/o 4816 Ocean View Blvd., La Canada, CA 91011 or, after March 1, to my home, 117 Newland St., Queens Park N.S.W 2022, Australia. -- Forrester Saliya Atapattu
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