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

on Jun 6, 2014

The Following Questions Will Be Answered In This Article:

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

  • Yes.

If not legal:

  • The Washington Liquor Control Board says owning a still is illegal, however, Revised Code of Washington (RCW) provides that it is illegal to “…operate without a license, any still or other device for the production of spirituous liquor, or shall have in his or her possession or under his or her control any mash capable of being distilled into spirituous liquor…”.  Therefore if the still is not being used for the production of spirituous liquor it should not be illegal.   It appears that evidence showing that the still was actually used for alcohol production would be required to make mere possession illegal.
  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.) N/A
  • What is maximum fine?  N/A
  • What is maximum jail time?  N/A
  • Can still be seized?   N/A
  • Can additional property be seized?  N/A

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

  • No.  See (RCW) Section 66.44.140

If not legal:

      • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)  Gross Misdemeanor
      • What is maximum fine?  First Offense: Fine of not less than $500; Subsequent Offenses: Fine of not less than $1,000;  (RCW) Section 66.44.140
      • What is maximum jail time? First Offense:  Not less than six months; Subsequent Offenses:  Not less than one year;  (RCW) Section 66.44.140
      • Can still be seized?  Yes, see below.
      • Can additional property be seized?  Yes. (RCW) Section 66.32.020 provides for the seizure of all intoxicating liquor …., together with the vessels in which it is contained, and all implements, furniture, and fixtures used or kept for the illegal manufacture, sale … “ of alcohol if there is evidence that intoxicating liquor is being manufactured, sold, bartered, exchanged, given away, furnished, or otherwise disposed of or kept in violation of the provisions of this title.

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

  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)  Gross Misdemeanor
  • What is maximum fine?  First Offense: Fine of not less than $500; Subsequent Offenses: Fine of not less than $1,000;  (RCW) Section 66.44.140
  • What is maximum jail time?  First Offense:  Not less than six months; Subsequent Offenses:  Not less than one year;  (RCW) Section 66.44.140
  • Can property be seized?  Yes. (RCW) Section 66.32.020 provides for the seizure of all intoxicating liquor …., together with the vessels in which it is contained, and all implements, furniture, and fixtures used or kept for the illegal manufacture, sale … “ of alcohol if there is evidence that intoxicating liquor is being manufactured, sold, bartered, exchanged, given away, furnished, or otherwise disposed of or kept in violation of the provisions of this title.

Is a commercial distillery permit available? 

  • Yes.  A Craft Distillery Permit is available and allows the production up to 60,000 gallons of spirits annually; Permit holder may sell two liters per day per person of spirits of his own production for off-premises consumption. Sales must be reported monthly to the Liquor Control Board; All spirits must be sold at Washington liquor stores, with the exception of the product Permit holder can sell at his distillery.  There is a large commercial Distiller/Rectifier License, as well, but I assume that is not the information  that you need.
  • Cost of commercial distillery permit?  Craft Distillery Permit is $100;
  • Location of commercial distillery permit application online?  Must have a Washington Business License (Application at     http://bls.dor.wa.gov/forms/700028.pdf) and a Liquor Control Board Addendum-Non-Retail Application.  Cannot be done on line-Application must be submitted by mail.  Go to http://liq.wa.gov/licensing/apply-liquor-license for more information.

Is a fuel alcohol permit available?

  • Yes, if the permit holder is in compliance with Federal law.  RCW Section 66.12.130 provides that, “Nothing in this title shall apply to or prevent the sale, importation, purchase, production, or blending of alcohol used solely for fuel to be used in motor vehicles, farm implements, and machines or implements of husbandry or in combination with gasoline or other petroleum products for use as such fuel. Manufacturers and distillers of such alcohol fuel are not required to obtain a license under this title. Alcohol which is produced for use as fuel shall be denatured in accordance with a formula approved by the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms prior to the removal of the alcohol from the premises as described in the approved federal permit application: PROVIDED, That alcohol which is being transferred between plants involved in the distillation or manufacture of alcohol fuel need not be denatured if it is transferred in accordance with federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms regulation 27 C.F.R. 19.996 as existing on July 26, 1981. The exemptions from the state liquor control laws provided by this section only apply to distillers and manufacturers of alcohol to be used solely for fuel as long as the manufacturers and distillers are the holders of an appropriate permit issued under federal law.”
  • Cost of fuel alcohol permit?  No state permit required if in compliance with Federal law with federal Permit;
  • Location of fuel alcohol permit application online?  N/A

 

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