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Home Distilling Laws: Is It Legal To Make Moonshine in Kentucky?

on Jun 6, 2014

The Following Questions Will Be Answered In This Article:

Kentucky Moonshine Laws

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

  •   No, but it is a question of the surrounding facts.  Kentucky Revised Statute Section 244.170 provides that “No person shall buy, bargain, sell, loan, own, possess or knowingly transport any apparatus designed for the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages”.   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.
  • Can still be seized?   Yes.   Kentucky Revised Statute Section 244.190 provides for the seizure of contraband.
  • Can additional property be seized?  Yes. Kentucky Statute Section 244.170 provides that “The following property, even though found and seized in dry territory, is contraband:  (1) Any apparatus commonly used or intended to be used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages and not registered in the office of a collector of internal revenue for the United States. The burden of proof that the apparatus is so registered shall be on the defendant.  (2) Any and all material, equipment, implements, devices, firearms and other property used or intended for use directly and immediately in connection with the unlawful traffic in alcoholic beverages.  (3) Any alcoholic beverages in the possession of anyone not entitled by law to possess them.  (4) Any alcoholic beverages to which the revenue stamps or tax crowns have not been affixed as required by KRS 243.720 to 243.850.  (5) Any alcoholic beverages in a container of a size prohibited by law or prohibited to the particular party in whose possession they are found. (6) Any vehicle, watercraft or aircraft in which any person is illegally possessing or transporting alcoholic beverages. “Illegally possessing” means and includes the holding of any alcoholic liquors unless lawfully acquired and intended for lawful uses”.
  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)  KRS 244.090 provides that “Any person who, by himself or herself or acting through another, directly or indirectly, violates any of the provisions of this chapter for which no other penalty is provided shall, for the first offense, be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor; and for the second and each subsequent violation, he or she shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor”.
  • What is maximum fine?   First offense:  Up to $250; Second and subsequent offenses:  $500;
  • What is maximum jail time?   First offense: 90 days imprisonment;  Second and subsequent offenses:  90 days to 12 months imprisonment;
  • Can property be seized?  Yes.   Kentucky Revised Statute Section 244.190 provides for the seizure of contraband.  See above for definition of ‘contraband’.

If not legal:

  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)  KRS 244.990(2) provides that “Any person who violates KRS 244.170 shall, upon the first conviction, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Upon a second conviction he or she shall be guilty of a Class D felony. Upon the third and each subsequent conviction, he or she shall be guilty of a Class C felony”.
  • What is maximum fine?  First offense:  $500; Second and subsequent offense: $1,000 to $10,000.  KRS 534-030.
  • What is maximum jail time?  First offense: 90 days to 12 months imprisonment;  Second offense:  1-5 years imprisonment; Third  and subsequent Offenses: 5-10 years imprisonment. KRS 532-060.


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

  • No.  Kentucky Revised Statute Section 244.170 provides that “No person shall buy, bargain, sell, loan, own, possess or knowingly transport any apparatus designed for the unlawful manufacture of alcoholic beverages”.

If not legal:

  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)  KRS 244.090 provides that “Any person who, by himself or herself or acting through another, directly or indirectly, violates any of the provisions of this chapter for which no other penalty is provided shall, for the first offense, be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor; and for the second and each subsequent violation, he or she shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor”.
  • What is maximum fine?  First offense:  Up to $250; Second and subsequent offenses:  $500;
  • What is maximum jail time?  First offense: 90 days imprisonment;  Second and subsequent offenses:  90 days to 12 months imprisonment;
  • Can still be seized?  Yes.   Kentucky Revised Statute Section 244.190 provides for the seizure of contraband.
  • Can additional property be seized?  Yes. Kentucky Statute Section 244.170 provides that “The following property, even though found and seized in dry territory, is contraband:  (1) Any apparatus commonly used or intended to be used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages and not registered in the office of a collector of internal revenue for the United States. The burden of proof that the apparatus is so registered shall be on the defendant.  (2) Any and all material, equipment, implements, devices, firearms and other property used or intended for use directly and immediately in connection with the unlawful traffic in alcoholic beverages.  (3) Any alcoholic beverages in the possession of anyone not entitled by law to possess them.  (4) Any alcoholic beverages to which the revenue stamps or tax crowns have not been affixed as required by KRS 243.720 to 243.850.  (5) Any alcoholic beverages in a container of a size prohibited by law or prohibited to the particular party in whose possession they are found. (6) Any vehicle, watercraft or aircraft in which any person is illegally possessing or transporting alcoholic beverages. “Illegally possessing” means and includes the holding of any alcoholic liquors unless lawfully acquired and intended for lawful uses”.


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

  • What is charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc.)?  KRS 244.090 provides that “Any person who, by himself or herself or acting through another, directly or indirectly, violates any of the provisions of this chapter for which no other penalty is provided shall, for the first offense, be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor; and for the second and each subsequent violation, he or she shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor”.
  • What is maximum fine?   First offense:  Up to $250; Second and subsequent offenses:  $500;
  • What is maximum jail time?   First offense: 90 days imprisonment;  Second and subsequent offenses:  90 days to 12 months imprisonment;
  • Can property be seized?  Yes.   Kentucky Revised Statute Section 244.190 provides for the seizure of contraband.  See above for definition of ‘contraband’.


Is a commercial distillery permit available? 

  • Yes, a Distillers License.
  • Cost of commercial distillery permit?  $3,090 per year.
  • Location of commercial distillery permit application online?  License Application for all licenses can be obtained at the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control website at http://abc.ky.gov/Pages/LICapps.aspx


Is a fuel alcohol permit available? Yes.  In addition to the State and Federal permits, it actually takes various permits for water, air, discharge, hazardous waste, zoning and other permits relating to environmental impacts.  

  • Cost of fuel alcohol permit? There is an annual fuel tax that is required.
  • Location of fuel alcohol permit application online?

Application for an Alcohol Fuel Producer’s Permit at: http://www.ttb.gov/forms/f511074.pdf
Tax Registration Application for Motor Fuels License at: http://revenue.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/04D13B50-364E-4C25-8596-87F7F0ADCF97/0/72A300TaxRegistrationApplicationforMotorFuelsLicense411.pdf

 

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