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Home Distilling Laws: Is It Illegal To Make Moonshine in Maryland?

on Jun 6, 2014

The Following Questions Will Be Answered In This Article:

Maryland Moonshine Laws

Is it legal to own a non-alcohol producing still (for water purification, etc.)? 

  • No, but this statute also can depend on the surrounding facts.  Maryland Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(4)  provides that “A person may not buy, bargain, sell, borrow, lend, manufacture, possess, transport or suffer to be bought, bargained, sold, lent, manufactured, possessed or transported any apparatus, materials, equipment, implements, devices or other personal property designed, used or intended for use directly or immediately in connection with the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverage …”.   Therefore, the argument that a still is ‘designed’ to manufacture alcohol is an easy one for authorities to make.  If substantial evidence could be shown that the still was designed and used only for water purification, or some other purpose, it’s possible that prosecution could be avoided, but it may be difficult given the way that the statute is written.  Obviously if evidence is presented that the still was actually used or intended to be used for alcohol production, then prosecution will also be easy.
  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)  Felony.  Maryland Code Section g2b-16-505 provides that “…..in addition to any other fines or penalties provided for the violation of the provisions of this article, any person convicted of the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages or the unlawful possession of materials, equipment, implements, devices and other property used or intended for use directly and immediately in connection with the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages within this State, shall upon conviction be subject to a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $10,000.00 or to imprisonment for not more than five years, or both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court”.
  • Can additional property be seized?  Yes.  Maryland  Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(5)  provides that “Any vehicle, vessel or aircraft used with the express or implied knowledge, consent or permission of its lawful owner for the purpose of violating any of the provisions of this article relating to the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages or which is used to transport, store or secrete illicit alcoholic beverages shall be deemed contraband and may be confiscated by the Comptroller or his duly authorized enforcement officers and may be forfeited as provided for in this article”.


What is the penalty for possessing / and or selling illegally produced spirits without a permit? 

  • Maryland Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(1) provides that  “Alcoholic beverages may not be bought, possessed, stored, imported, transported, kept or suffered to be bought, possessed, stored, imported, transported or kept in any vehicle, vessel or aircraft or on any premises or under the charge or control of any person except: (i) by a consumer, or (ii) by a licensee as provided in this article ….”
  • Can property be seized?  Yes. Maryland Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(5)   provides that “Any vehicle, vessel or aircraft used with the express or implied knowledge, consent or permission of its lawful owner for the purpose of violating any of the provisions of this article relating to the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages or which is used to transport, store or secrete illicit alcoholic beverages shall be deemed contraband and may be confiscated by the Comptroller or his duly authorized enforcement officers and may be forfeited as provided for in this article”.

If not legal:

      • What is maximum fine?  $10,000
      • What is maximum jail time?  Five years imprisonment.
      • Can still be seized? Yes.  Maryland Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(4)  provides that “A person may not buy, bargain, sell, borrow, lend, manufacture, possess, transport or suffer to be bought, bargained, sold, lent, manufactured, possessed or transported any apparatus, materials, equipment, implements, devices or other personal property designed, used or intended for use directly or immediately in connection with the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages. The apparatus, materials, equipment, implements, devices or other personal property shall be deemed contraband and may be confiscated and forfeited as provided in this article”.


Is it legal to distill alcohol without possession of a commercial distiller’s permit or a fuel alcohol permit? 

  • No. Maryland Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(3) provides that “A person may not manufacture, blend, rectify, bottle or suffer to be manufactured, blended, rectified or bottled any alcoholic beverages except on premises licensed under this article unless otherwise provided for in this article”.

If not legal:

  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)  Felony.  Maryland Code Section g2b-16-505 provides that “…..in addition to any other fines or penalties provided for the violation of the provisions of this article, any person convicted of the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages or the unlawful possession of materials, equipment, implements, devices and other property used or intended for use directly and immediately in connection with the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages within this State, shall upon conviction be subject to a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $10,000.00 or to imprisonment for not more than five years, or both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court”.
  • What is maximum fine?  $10,000
  • What is maximum jail time?  Five years imprisonment.
  • Can still be seized? Yes.   Maryland Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(4) provides that  “A person may not buy, bargain, sell, borrow, lend, manufacture, possess, transport or suffer to be bought, bargained, sold, lent, manufactured, possessed or transported any apparatus, materials, equipment, implements, devices or other personal property designed, used or intended for use directly or immediately in connection with the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages. The apparatus, materials, equipment, implements, devices or other personal property shall be deemed contraband and may be confiscated and forfeited as provided in this article”.
  • Can additional property be seized?  Yes. Maryland  Code Section g2b-1-201(a)(5)  provides that “Any vehicle, vessel or aircraft used with the express or implied knowledge, consent or permission of its lawful owner for the purpose of violating any of the provisions of this article relating to the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages or which is used to transport, store or secrete illicit alcoholic beverages shall be deemed contraband and may be confiscated by the Comptroller or his duly authorized enforcement officers and may be forfeited as provided for in this article”.
      • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)   Felony
      • What is maximum fine?  $10,000
      • What is maximum jail time?  Five years imprisonment


Is a commercial distillery permit available? 

  • Yes Maryland Code Section g2b-2-202  provides for a Class 1 Manufacture’s Licenses, which is a distiller’s license.    There are, however, different rules for different counties.
  • Cost of commercial distillery permit?$2,000 annual fee plus $200 filing fee.
  • Location of commercial distillery permit application online? At the Maryland Comptroller’s website.  The Application is at:    http://forms.marylandtaxes.com/alcohol_forms/367.pdf


Is a fuel alcohol permit available? Yes.  It actually takes various permits for water, air, discharge, hazardous waste, zoning and other permits relating to environmental impacts, in addition to the requirement that the applicant have a Federal \Permit.

  • Cost of fuel alcohol permit? The cost is associated with each of the various environmental permits necessary and are set by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
  • Location of fuel alcohol permit application online? The Maryland Department of the Environment website contains the various Permit Applications necessary at:  http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/Permits/Pages/busguide.aspxIn addition, the Maryland permitting process is summarized at: http://www.mde.state.md.us/assets/document/Ethanol_Permitting_Summary_08.pdf

 

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