Pending legislation in at least two states would restrict sales of alcohol to people convicted of DWI offenses. A bill in the New Mexico State House of Representatives would allow a court to include a prohibition on alcohol purchases in an order requiring use of an ignition interlock device (IID). A bill in the Oklahoma State Senate goes even farther, allowing a court to bar the purchase of alcohol by anyone convicted of DWI. Anyone providing alcohol to someone under such a restriction could face criminal liability. States have near-total control over the regulation of alcoholic beverages, and at least one state already has such a law on the books. Lawmakers and others have suggested similar legislation in Texas and Washington state, but New Jersey does not have a law allowing this sort of restriction.
The sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States during a period known as Prohibition, which began with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. The Twenty-First Amendment, ratified in 1933, repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and left the regulation of alcoholic beverages up to the states. A series of Supreme Court decisions have explored the extent to which states may restrict the sale or purchase of alcohol. Alaska allows courts to order a person who has been convicted of DWI to “refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages,” and to prohibit him or her from purchasing alcohol. The state may issue a new driver’s license or other identification to a person subject to this restriction, which indicates the restriction.
New Mexico’s HB30 would amend the state’s IID law to allow a judge to prohibit a defendant from purchasing alcoholic beverages for as long as that individual is required to have an IID installed in his or her vehicle. Much like the Alaska law, the state would issue a new identification card indicating the alcohol restriction. The bill’s sponsor introduced it during the last legislative session in 2013. It passed the New Mexico House but failed to pass in the Senate. He introduced it again in December 2014. Continue reading →