Virginia bars and restaurants can now promote happy hours more freely after the state legislature repealed regulations on such advertisements.
The previous regulations that are now repealed prohibited establishments from advertising happy hours by using drink prices, naming certain types of drinks or brands, using creative names or noting the time-span of the happy hour.
Creative names that were prohibited included vague advertisements, such as a “Wine Wednesday” or “Thirsty Thursday.”
Now, bars and restaurants will be able to use these advertisements on fliers, posters, social media and their website.
Certain regulations still remain in place. It is still illegal under Virginia law to hold happy hours from 9 p.m. until bars close at 2 a.m. Establishments cannot use advertisements that encourage underage drinking or the over consumption of alcohol. It is still prohibited to advertise bottomless drink specials and two-for-one deals.
Establishments will be in violation if they offer any reduced prices slightly later than 9 p.m. or even allow one customer to purchase a drink seconds after the time ends.
The Pacific Legal Foundation brought this issue into the public eye after it represented chef who said that these laws violated his First Amendment right to free speech. The chef, Geoff Tracy, operates restaurants in Tysons Corner, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.
“If these are signed into law it will be huge for my business,” Tracy said in a news release before the law was signed by Gov. Ralph Northam. “Now I can actually have some fun in advertising my happy hours, and I can tell people the price of happy-hour pinot before they get to my restaurant.”