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January 5 2011

Changes in Michigan Law Regarding Sunday Sales of Beer, Wine and Spirits

On November 17, 2010, the Governor signed into law Act 213 of the Michigan Public Acts of 2010 (“Act 213”), which amends Act 58 of the Michigan Public Acts of 1998, commonly known as the Liquor Control Code. One of Act 213’s significant amendments to the Liquor Control Code concerns the sale of beer, wine, spirits, and mixed spirit drinks on Sundays. Sunday Sales of Beer and Wine. Under the former provisions of the Liquor Control Code, beer and wine could not be sold between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Sundays, and local units of government were authorized to prohibit the Sunday sale of beer and wine after 2:00 a.m. Under Act 213, it is now legal under state law to sell beer and wine all day on Sunday (from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. on Monday), unless the local unit of government prohibits such Sunday sales. The statutory language does not expressly permit partial prohibitions (such as allowing the sale of beer and wine to begin at 12:00 p.m.). In other words, Act 213 appears to take an all or nothing approach—prohibit the Sunday sale of beer and wine completely (except 12 midnight to 2:00 a.m.), or not at all. Sunday Sales of Spirits and Mixed Spirit Drinks. Under the former provisions of the Liquor Control Code, the Sunday sale of spirits and mixed spirit drinks was not permitted unless the county board of commissioners or county voters authorized Sunday sales after 12:00 p.m. Under Act 213, it is now also legal to sell spirits and mixed spirit drinks all day on Sunday (from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Monday), both in retail establishments and in an establishment deriving more than half of its gross receipts from the sale of food and other goods. A county board of commissioners or county voters may prohibit the Sunday sale of spirits and mixed spirit drinks, but, as with Sunday sales of beer and wine, partial prohibitions are not expressly authorized. Cities, villages and townships may continue to prohibit the Sunday sale of spirits and mixed spirits. Despite the apparent all or nothing approach in Act 213, the Liquor Control Commission (“Commission”) is currently interpreting Act 213 to permit local units of government to partially prohibit the Sunday sale of beer, wine, spirits and mixed spirits. It is important to note, however, that unless the Legislature amends the language of Act 213 to expressly permit partial prohibition of Sunday sales, the Commission’s current interpretation of Act 213 is subject to change. We will continue to keep our readers updated on the Commission’s implementation of Act 213 and on any further developments in the law regarding this issue.