Protecting Your Liquor License: 2 Things You Need To Know

As the owner of a bar, one of the biggest fears you may have is losing your liquor license. A liquor license is a legal requirement for any business that sells alcohol, and getting one can be expensive and time-consuming. Once you have one in place, you must do all you can to prevent losing it, which means setting up strict parameters and procedures for all of your employees to follow. If your business is busted selling alcohol to a minor, you could get in trouble, and here are two things you should know about this.

You Are Responsible

As the owner of the bar and the liquor licensee, you are ultimately responsible for what happens at your business. Because of this, it is highly important to set up the proper procedures for selling alcohol and to teach your staff what these are. This can include:

  • Requiring every person that purchases alcohol to have a state photo ID card on them
  • Carding every person that walks through the door
  • Asking for a second form of identification if the employee has any doubts
  • Refusing to serve a person if there are doubts about his or her age

If you set up good procedures to protect your business and your liquor license, and if everyone follows the rules, you should never have a problem with breaking the law. If you or an employee end up serving to a minor, trouble can occur, and there are many different types of consequences that can result from this.

Employees Are Also Responsible

The second thing you should know is that your employees can also be responsible for selling alcohol to minors. If an employee fails to take all necessary steps and precautions and ends up giving an underage person a drink, this employee can actually be held personally responsible and liable for this. Keep in mind that even though the employee was at fault in this example, your business will also be held liable for the event.

Anytime a bar breaks a law relating to alcohol, the bar owner and the employee that served the drink can both be punished for the crime. The punishment could be one of these things, or a combination of all of them:

  • Criminal charges – Generally, selling alcohol to a minor is considered a class-2 misdemeanor, but the charges can be worse than this if the person or business is a repeat offender.
  • Driver's license suspension – This could be imposed for 30 days or longer, depending on the nature of the crime.
  • Fines – Selling alcohol to minors can cost a great deal of money in fines, and this could be thousands of dollars.
  • Probation – Probation is another way of punishing a person for a crime, and this could last for one year, or even longer.
  • Jail time – A first violation will usually not result in jail time; however, jail or prison time could be the punishment if the establishment continuously gets caught selling to minors.
  • Loss of liquor license – This crime is also severe enough to cause you to lose your liquor license. If you can prove that the employee failed to follow all of the procedures required at your company, you might be able to avoid losing your license. In this case, the employee would take the brunt of the punishment for failing to do what he or she was supposed to do.

If the sale of alcohol to a minor occurred because the minor had a fake ID, you and your employee might be able to get off the hook from the crime, but it will take proving that every step was followed to ensure that the person was at least 21 years old.

If you end up in trouble for selling alcohol to a minor, you will want to contact a lawyer that handles liquor license issues. Your lawyer will help you through this situation and will do everything possible to help you hang on to your liquor license.

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