Liquor Licensing Laws

Written by taunda edwards
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All business establishments and individuals must purchase a liquor license in order to sell liquor. Each state has an alcohol board commission that determines the rules and laws of liquor licenses in the state. The establishment could lose its liquor license and possibly be fined if it breaks the laws enumerated in the license. Some liquor license laws prohibit the sale of alcohol on certain days.


A legal permit that allows a business, company or individual to sell liquor or alcoholic beverages is known as a liquor license. The laws of a liquor license vary from state to state, and are typically determined by the alcohol beverage commission of that state. To obtain a liquor license, an individual or business must apply for the correct license type. Liquor licenses are divided into different classes. An individual wanting to sell liquor to consumers in the original containers or packages for off-premises consumption only must purchase a Class A liquor license.

Legal Drinking Age

No business, company or individual can sell alcohol to anyone under the age legal drinking age for that state. The legal drinking age varies from state to state, but it is generally 21. Before the employees of an establishment sell liquor to a customer, the employee should verify the customer is of legal age. Asking to see the customer's driver's license, state identification card or other acceptable form of identification is the typical age verification process.


To obtain a liquor license, the establishment of a business or individual must be approved by the state or local health department. Some factors a health department considers when approving an application include the decency of the establishment, location of establishment, number of liquor license already awarded in the area, sobriety and good order. These factors determine whether the license is granted, renewed or refused.

Time Specifics

A liquor license specifies the time and day in which an establishment or individual may sell liquor. For instances, some liquor licenses prohibit a business from selling alcohol after the hours of 2:00 a.m. In these cases, a business or individual caught selling liquor after 2:00 a.m. could be fined and lose the liquor license. The times liquor can be sold vary from state to state, and also depend on the type of license purchased. In addition to times, some licenses prohibit businesses from selling alcohol on certain days. For instance, in Ohio, a retail license does not permit liquor sales on Sunday, but a restaurant license does.


A citation can cause a company, business or other liquor license holder to lose the license. There is no set number of citations a business can have before its license is taken away. If the citation and incident is serious enough, the license can be revoked with one citation. A business can be cited for various reasons, such as selling liquor to minors, selling alcohol beyond the hours specified in the license or failure to renew the liquor license once it expires. The citations are reviewed by the alcohol beverage commission of a license owner's state, and that board decides if the business owner should be fined, lose the liquor license, or a combination of both.

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