The liquor laws in California set forth by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages to prevent minors from buying alcohol, to maintain control over licensing and alcoholic beverage retail sale, and to dictate the kinds of alcohol products that are available for sale. The ABC is an independent department under the state’s executive branch of government. If a business wishes to sell or serve alcoholic beverages at the place of business, it must stay in compliance with the rules and guidelines established by the ABC.
For new business owners who wish to serve or sell alcohol at their establishment, the first step toward achieving that goal is obtaining a liquor license. If a business owner does not properly obtain a liquor license to serve alcoholic drinks and then, after receiving the license, operate their business in accordance with ABC laws and regulations, they can:
The quickest route to getting a license to sell alcoholic beverages in California is by hiring a qualified ABC attorney to assist with this complicated process.
The legal team at Blake & Ayaz has more than 60 years of combined legal experience in representing and offering legal counsel to clients in California. No matter what your business’ legal needs are, we can accommodate them. Our knowledge and skill set is vast and encompasses a wide range of legal practice areas, including ABC hearings and appeals. We can help you save time and money while securing your liquor license with the ABC. That way, your business can optimize its profits from alcohol sales. Our approach is direct, and we provide results-driven legal services on behalf of all our clients.
The process of obtaining a liquor license in California is a long one. It has many complex steps and potential outcomes. If you don’t have an attorney to assist you in navigating these steps, consider the advantages of having someone who knows the system working with you to expedite your application. If an outside party files a protest against your application to obtain a liquor license, you’ll have a hearing, which can be optimized with a license defense attorney supporting your case. There are many routes you may take to get your license approved, depending on how much resistance your application is met with in terms of protests, zoning issues, and other opposing factors you may be faced with. The potential steps for applying for a California liquor license are below.
An analysis of the premises will also be done regarding proximity to schools, hospitals, churches, youth facilities, playgrounds, and residences, as well as zoning and other factors that would prevent licensure.
Restrictive conditions may be added to a license that may cause protesters to withdraw their protest and allow the license to pass the system. Restrictions can include conditions as to the type of entertainment the business can offer, the hours that alcohol can be sold, and other limitations. Protests must be filed within 30 days.
The time that the full process can take depends on how many steps must be taken to get an application accepted. It can take anywhere from 55 days to 175 days or more. These times can potentially be shortened when you have an attorney represent you. They can help you achieve deadlines, complete forms, and gather the information required for your application in a timely manner. Below is a summary of the timeframe you can expect your application to take for the different types of hearings and appeals.
If a business owner sells their business, the ABC license will transfer ownership to the new owner, along with the premises and business. The ABC may add new conditions to the license, though, when it transfers. If these conditions impede the business goals, business owners oftentimes wish to modify these person-to-person transfers. An experienced California ABC hearings and appeals attorney can assist in getting unwanted modifications amended or removed when a liquor license is transferred. Some changes that an attorney can help facilitate include the following:
While these are all very difficult modifications to get approved in many cases, the potential for such modifications is greatly increased when you have a liquor license attorney representing your case. An attorney with experience in these matters knows how to progress through the system with positive results.
Once an establishment secures a liquor license, the business owner must make sure to stay in compliance with all the regulatory standards set forth by the ABC. Failure to comply can result in dire consequences for a business. Surprise compliance inspections, undercover checks for serving minors, or other procedures and violations of licensure can be detrimental to a business. Making sure that a business meets all the rules, and upholds its responsibilities within the terms and conditions of its liquor license, will maintain an establishment’s privilege to rightfully serve and sell alcohol to the public.
It is not uncommon for California businesses to lose their liquor license, which can be damaging to a business and cause it to lose customers, who may take their business to other establishments where liquor is available. Some common reasons why a license to sell alcohol might be revoked are listed below.
If you’ve lost your right to sell alcohol in California, you have a few options, and each one can be optimized with the assistance of an ABC license defense attorney. A California ABC hearings and appeals attorney can help if you’ve lost your liquor license. Attorneys who focus on ABC hearings and appeals are familiar with ABC regulations and rules for operating a business that sells or serves alcohol.
An attorney can prove to be a useful asset to a business owner who has lost their liquor license to either revocation or suspension. One specific way they can do so is by working with a business to make a plan to amend the areas of violation. An attorney can also help them make the necessary changes to meet both state and federal requirements and regulations. By following their lawyer’s recommendations, a business can get its license back and keep it. Having an attorney to advise you can also prevent undue harassment from ABC investigators and local law enforcement officers. An attorney knows how to keep their attention away by raising your business’ standards to a level that surpasses the regulations but still brings in sales.
If a business is in violation of ABC guidelines, the department can apply a variety of proportional and progressive penalties. These may be influenced by several factors, which are listed below:
An ABC attorney is a great resource for a business owner who has lost their liquor license and must attend a hearing, where they will attempt to retain their privileges to serve and sell alcohol. A good ABC hearings attorney can build a strong liquor license defense on their behalf. Some examples of defense strategies that liquor license attorneys frequently use are below.
Although preliminary notices of ABC violations may be soft, like a simple warning letter, these should not be taken lightly or ignored. If instances of violations are not amended in a timely and serious manner, the next letter you receive could be a Letter of Revocation of License. Various infractions will warrant differing degrees of license suspension, ranging from 10 days’ suspension to revocation. Some of the most common violations, and their corresponding penalties, are listed below.
ABC agents, like police officers or sheriff’s deputies, are sworn law enforcement officers, but they do have the power to arrest. Also known as peace officers, they may be dressed in plain clothes or a uniform, and they have the legal right to show up and inspect licensed premises anytime during operating business hours. They do not need a search warrant. Under the terms and conditions of the license, they can search any of the following areas:
Even areas that are off-limits to the public are searchable. License holders must not avoid, delay, resist, or obstruct a peace officer in any manner to impede such searches.
If you are a new license applicant, or you are looking to get your liquor license transferred or reinstated, your efforts will be significantly augmented with the assistance of an ABC appeals attorney. Contact Blake & Ayaz and speak to one of our attorneys who is well-versed in California ABC laws and application requirements. We can assist you in meeting your goals of getting your business into the good graces of the ABC and staying there.