In general, a liquor law violation may occur when an individual or an establishment breaches an alcohol-related regulation that involves the consumption, possession, transportation, serving, or sale of alcoholic beverages. Each state, along with each jurisdiction within a single state, may have its own state laws and local rules that govern how liquor is distributed and ingested. Accordingly, liquor laws tend to vary considerably based on the jurisdiction.
Liquor law violations may also differ based on the people involved in a particular matter, such as whether a liquor law violation included a retailer, consumer, vendor, minor, and/or another business and the employees of that business like a restaurant establishment. For example, a bartender or server in a restaurant could potentially be held liable for violating a liquor law if they are caught serving alcoholic beverages to minors who are under the age of 21 years old.
Depending on the state, some other examples of liquor laws may include:
- A drink limit or the maximum number of alcoholic drinks that a bar can serve to a single patron;
- Whether a business is permitted to sell or serve alcoholic beverages (e.g., a grocery store);
- Laws on the requirements to obtain or to renew a liquor license, certificate, and/or registration;
- Local liquor rules that concern the “Dram Shop” Act;
- State age limit requirements to serve, sell, and consume alcohol; and/or
- Various other kinds of local liquor rules and state-specific liquor laws.
To learn more about the requirements of liquor laws and liquor law violations in your area, it may be in your best interest to speak to a local criminal law attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can inform you of the liquor laws in both your county and state. An attorney will also be able to provide valuable legal advice in the event that you are charged with violating a state or local liquor law and facing jail time.
What are Some Examples of Liquor Law Violations?
Given the fact that there are numerous federal, state, and local regulations that govern liquor and/or alcohol-related activities, there are many different ways that these laws can be violated. Some common examples of liquor law violations may include the following:
- Consuming alcohol as an under age minor;
- Selling alcohol without a liquor license;
- Operating heavy machinery while intoxicated;
- Drinking alcohol while driving a motor vehicle;
- Lacking a license or certificate to become a bartender;
- Assaulting a person while under the influence of alcohol;
- Violating open container laws or having an open container of alcohol while riding in a motor vehicle;
- Serving alcoholic beverages without a liquor license;
- Overserving a patron after it is clear they have consumed too many alcoholic drinks;
- Being drunk in public or public intoxication;
- Failing to ask for a state ID when selling or serving alcohol to a customer;
- Serving alcohol as a minor or below the requisite state age limit;
- Getting into a physical altercation while drunk in public;
- Serving or selling alcohol to minor age patrons; and/or
- Serving or selling alcohol at a time or on a day that it is prohibited by law.
In addition, most states will also require a business establishment to obtain a liquor license in order to sell alcohol to customers and/or to serve alcoholic beverages patrons. In some states, the sale and purchase of alcoholic beverages may be restricted by area.
For instance, in one county a customer may be able to purchase alcohol on Sundays, whereas in another county within the same state, the local liquor laws may prohibit a customer from buying alcohol on Sundays.
While this may not be the case all of the time, there are many states that impose liquor laws specifically to restrict the days and times that alcohol can be served at or sold to customers. For example, some states do not allow persons to purchase alcohol after 10:00pm or on Sundays under their liquor laws.
What are the Legal Consequences for Liquor Law Violations?
As discussed above, the legal consequences that one may receive if found guilty of violating a state or local liquor law will largely be contingent on the circumstances of a specific case, the nature of the crime involved in the charges, and the laws enacted within a particular jurisdiction. Therefore, the legal consequences for liquor law violations can vary considerably from one case to the next, depending on the factors just mentioned.
For instance, violations of a local liquor law that involves the alcohol-related crime of public drunkenness will only result in a traffic citation and small fine in most states.
On the other hand, more serious alcohol crimes or liquor law violations, such as selling or purchasing alcoholic beverages to give to a minor, may result in charges for a misdemeanor offense. In general, misdemeanor crimes can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence for up to one year.
Given the number of different laws and factors that may be involved in a situation involving a liquor law violation, there are various other penalties that can arise in connection with liquor law crimes, such as having a state driver’s license or a license to sell liquor revoked.
For example, a business that violates local liquor laws could possibly lose their liquor license or their license to operate as a business in the area.
Alternatively, a person who has been found guilty of driving while under the influence and violating liquor laws may also have their driving privileges or driver’s license temporarily suspended or permanently revoked for the rest of their life. Again, such penalties will depend on the facts of a case and state or local liquor laws.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Liquor Law Violations?
As previously discussed, violations of state or local liquor laws can result in serious legal consequences, including having a negative impact on the reputation of a business establishment as well as on an individual’s personal life. As such, you may want to consider hiring a local criminal lawyer who practices law in your county immediately if you are facing charges or penalties for violating a state or local liquor law.
An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to explain how the liquor laws in your area may affect the outcome of your criminal case. They can discuss the potential criminal consequences that you may be facing if you are convicted of charges involving a liquor law violation.
Your lawyer will also be able to inform you of your rights as a criminal defendant under the relevant laws and can perform legal research to see if there are any legal defenses that you can assert in your case.
In addition, your attorney will be able to draft and file any necessary legal documents for your case as well as can assist you in gathering evidence to prove that you are either innocent or that your charges and therefore punishment should be reduced. Your attorney will also be able to provide legal representation in court and can assist with proposing a different sentencing option if you are convicted.
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns regarding liquor law violations in general, your attorney will be able to address all of those as well.