State of Emergency and Alcohol Sales.

September 8th, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized

Hurricane Irma is barreling toward North Carolina and I urge everyone to be prepared. The Red Cross has good information on how to be well-prepared.

One issue of “preparation” I have heard from multiple sources for this hurricane is how you won’t be able to buy any alcohol when a hurricane is about to hit North Carolina. The basis for this warning comes from North Carolina statute   N.C.G.S.A. § 18B-110 which states:

“When the Governor finds that an emergency… exists anywhere in this State, the Governor may (1) Order the closing of all ABC stores; and (2) Order the cessation of all sales, transportation, manufacture, and bottling of alcoholic beverages.”

This would include both beer and wine as well as liquor sales. The key term in the statute is “may.” This gives the Governor the discretion to stop these sales but doesn’t require that he do so. It would seem reasonable that the ABC stores may be closed when conditions become dangerous for store employees or customers. However, even without the order from the Governor, individual ABC boards can set their own hours, as long as they’re not open longer hours than set by state law, and therefore can make their own local determination based on safety concerns for their employees.

I can’t find an instance where this power was actually exercised by the Governor in the past 25 years. It didn’t happen Aug. 25, 2011, when Gov. Beverly Perdue ordered a state of emergency for 39 eastern counties including Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender as Hurricane Irene approached.

-Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC who practices in Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Contract and Real Estate disputes, and all forms of Civil Litigation. Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.