Alcohol Agents Raid Senior Citizens’ Garden Party

The Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control raided a weekly senior citizens’ garden party within a gated community in Mesa. Agents seized the alcoholic beverages and wrote a citation for selling alcohol without a license.

The early evening neighborhood potluck events have been held in a large garden gazebo since 1999. Bill Wise, who helps organize the events, was cited under a state law, which makes it “unlawful for a person to buy for resale, sell or deal in spirituous liquors” without a liquor license. Mr. Wise said he purchased the beer and liquor for the event with money that people put in a donation box under the gazebo. He explained that “People who come to the parties can contribute anything they want or they don’t have to contribute anything.” 1

The liquor control agent insisted that “if they are accepting money to buy liquor, it is against the law.” The Arizona Republic observes that

If that’s a violation of Arizona law, then the state’s liquor department had better get ready for Operation Overload.

Imagine department investigators closing down home parties at which participants pool their money to buy liquor.

And how about those family reunions when Uncle Stu goes around collecting donations for another beer run?

It would be pretty embarrassing if liquor agents raided the office party ...because an interoffice memo asking employees to kick in a few bucks to buy a case of the hottest new merlot got mailed to the liquor department. 2

Perhaps the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control has too many officers and too much time on its hands. Or perhaps this over zealous enforcement is simply a reflection of the growing anti-alcohol movement in the United States.

For example, Santa Rosa police want the City Council in that California town to ban drinking alcoholic beverages on private property that’s accessible to the public or in vehicles on private property in view of the public. 3

Simply giving alcohol to adults age 21 or older, as is traditional at art gallery openings, has come under fire across the country. 4

And now a legislative group in Missouri is proposing legislation that would violate parental rights to serve their own children alcohol within the confines of their own home, which is currently legal in Missouri and many other states. 5

The new temperance movement appears to be growing across the country.


1. AZ liquor agents raid seniors’ party, confiscate booze. Arizona Republic, January 15, 2005.

2. AZ liquor agents raid seniors’ party, confiscate booze. Arizona Republic, January 15, 2005.

3. Callahan, Mary. SR (Santa Rosa) weighs alcohol ban on private property. The Press Democrat, May 14, 2004.

4. Art galleries raided, alcohol seized. Palo Alto Online, June 7, 2004; Holkinson, N. Art with Whine & Cheese: Crackdown on "Illegal" Alcohol Irks Galleries. The Washington Post, May 18, 2002.

5. Lieb, David A. Tougher laws proposed to fight underage drinking
Legislative panel recommends stronger penalties, closing loopholes. Springfield News-Leader, November 13, 2004.