Prior Restraint

It’s Happy Hour Somewhere: Lawsuit Challenging Happy Hour Ad Restrictions Will Proceed



Chef Geoff Tracy can move ahead with his lawsuit against Virginia’s Alcoholic Control Board seeking to weaken happy hour advertisement rules in the state. Lawyers for the Attorney General’s office argued in federal court that the lawsuit should be dismissed, but U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga rejected their motion, moving the case forward.

Tracy is suing the board for the restrictions placed on Virginia’s bars for happy hour advertising. Under the existing law, it is legal for Tracy to host happy hour in his restaurant and he can advertise that it is taking place. But he is prohibited from advertising the specials being offered or the prices of the drinks. He is also limited to using basic phrases like “happy hour” or “drink specials,” a change in the strict rules since 2014. Before that, it was illegal to advertise happy hour at all.

Tracy told WAMU that the law restricts the ability to give “pertinent, truthful information” to customers. The complaint filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation noted that advertising happy hour offerings is how Tracy’s restaurant stays competitive in the market.

Associated Press> WAMU> DC Eater> Pacific Legal Foundation Case Overview> Complaint>