Many new businesses require a liquor license to operate. Upon applying, most liquor licenses contain similar terms. Here are a few common ones:
- Type of business / Manner of selling alcohol – The rules and the application process may be completely different depending on what type of business you are opening. For example, getting a liquor license for a restaurant might require a different application then one for a nightclub. Figure out what type of business you are opening and use the right application.
- Personal information – Information such as your name, age, business description and location, and citizenship status will be required. Issuing a liquor license is a very rigid process, so other personal information such as criminal history (note: a criminal record won’t necessarily prevent you from obtaining a liquor license), tax information, fingerprints, floor plans of the business, etc. may be required as well.
- Fees – Getting a liquor license can be very expensive. For example, many applications require an application fee, annual fees, processing fees, late fees, etc. Fees vary among states and may also depend on the type of business you are running.
- Renewal – Like other licenses, liquor licenses expire. Renewal is required to maintain your liquor license (and maybe your business) and should be done in a timely fashion. Be aware of when renewal is required. It is easy to renew a license but extremely difficult if you miss the renewal period.
States vary widely on the types of restrictions placed on liquor licenses, but they often have numerous restrictions even if you are granted a license. For example, a liquor license may allow you to sell liquor only within a certain area of your business. Selling to minors is forbidden. Violating a restriction is a violation of the liquor license terms.
Dram Shop laws allow people who are injured by intoxicated people to file lawsuits against the business (or its owners) which served the alcohol to the intoxicated person. Along with a liquor license comes a duty not to provide alcohol in excess, nor to people who are visibly intoxicated. If you are a business owner, you should find out if such laws exist in your area. In fact, some liquor licenses or insurance companies may require you and your employees to attend training programs to avoid such liability.
Zoning of the land is done by almost all local governments. Be aware of the proposed location of your business before applying for a liquor license, since a proposed location in the wrong “zone” may cause a denial of your application. In terms of liquor licenses, a business located in a “wet zone” would be allowed to apply for a liquor license while a business located in a “dry zone” would not.
Since liquor licenses are subject to strict regulations, many of the terms in such agreements can be very complicated or confusing. An experienced business attorney can help guide you through any problems or questions you might have in regard to the terms of your license. If you don’t understand the terms, you may accidentally violate them.