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  • Writer's pictureMark Stumer


What are the minimum requirements for eligibility to hold a license? Applicants must be US citizens or have permanent resident alien status. In some cases, citizens of countries with reciprocal trade agreements may apply. Applicants must be 21 or older. Applicants must not be convicted felons (unless they have a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities). Applicants cannot be a police officer with arresting powers.

What are the permitted hours of operation for any given licensee? The hours of operation are regulated by county where the business is located, except for New York City which is regulated by statewide law.

What are the Notification to the Clerk/Community Board and Notification of Publication? On-premises license applicants must notify the appropriate government entity (village, town or city clerk or the appropriate community board if in NYC) as well as the designated newspaper of a pending license application at a particular location.

When filing my application, am I required to submit the entire fee? Yes.

Can I qualify for a temporary permit while I wait for my permanent license application to be processed? To qualify for a temporary permit, the following conditions must be satisfied: There must be an active license in existence at the premises for which you are applying. The permit and $640.00 fee must be filed simultaneously with the Retail License Application. The temporary permit will expire 90 days from the date of issuance.

Are there any restrictions on the location of my premises? With certain exceptions, applicants for a liquor store license, wine store license and on-premises license cannot be within 200 feet of a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship.

In what instances will criminal convictions or administrative actions by the SLA disqualify my application? Individuals not eligible for a license include: (i) a person convicted of a felony in NYS, including felony DWI; (ii) a person convicted of a crime in another state or federal jurisdiction which would translate to a felony conviction if committed in NYS; (iii) a person convicted of misdemeanors under sections 230.20 or 230.40 of the NYS Penal Law or 1146 of the former NYS Penal Law; (iv) a revoked license will disqualify the licensee for a period of two years; if the revoked licensee was a corporation any officer or director may also be disqualified.

Note: If an executive pardon or a certificate of relief from disabilities is obtained, the convictions are no longer disqualifying in and of themselves, although all convictions may be considered as part of the total merit of the application.

How old must a person be to serve alcoholic beverages as a bartender or a waitress/waiter, etc.? A person must be at least 18 years of age to be employed in a retail premises “as a hostess, waitress, waiter or any other capacity where the duties of such person require or permit such person to sell, dispense or handle alcoholic beverages.” (Section 100.2-a – ABC Law)

How old must a person be to work as a cashier in a grocery store? Grocery store beer licensees may employ a person under 18 as a cashier “to record and receive payment for beer and wine product sales when in the presence of and under direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or over.” (Section 100.2-a(1)&(2) – ABC Law)

What must I do to conduct a teen night in my premises? At least 10 days prior to the event, you must notify the State Liquor Authority, in writing, advising them of the exact dates.

What is acceptable proof of age to purchase alcohol in New York? A valid driver’s license or non-driver identification card issued by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, the Federal Government, a State Government, Commonwealth, Possession or Territory of the United States or a Provincial Government of Canada; or a valid U.S. passport, or valid passport of any other country; or a valid military ID from the U.S. (Section 65-b.2(b) – ABC Law)

Can a restaurant deliver beer with a food order? Yes. The Authority has ruled that on-premises licensees may deliver beer in containers along with a food order provided that order is received in the licensed premises. An order received by the licensee in the licensed premises over the telephone (or by fax) complies with this ruling. The Authority’s ruling applies to beer only. The sale or delivery of wine or liquor for off-premises consumption by an on-premises licensee, other than a hotel off-premises (HOP) permittee, is a violation of the law.

If I have a felony conviction, can I work in a licensed premises? On-premises retail licenses (taverns, restaurants, night clubs, etc.) are prohibited from knowingly employing a person convicted of a New York State felony or other specified offenses. No person holding any license, other than a license to sell an alcoholic beverage for retail off-premises consumption, shall knowingly employ in connection with his business, any person who has been convicted of a felony, or any of the following offense listed in Section 102.2 of the ABC Law, who has not subsequent to such conviction received an executive pardon therefore removing any civil disabilities incurred thereby, a certificate of good conduct or other relief from disabilities provided by law, or the written approval of the State Liquor Authority permitting such employment. (See Section 102.2 – ABC Law). There are no prohibitions against a person convicted of a New York State translated felony, or certain specified offenses to be employed on any retail premises licensed for off-premises consumption (i.e. grocery stores, drug stores, or liquor stores).

Can a liquor store take returns of unwanted purchases? No, the State Liquor Authority does not approve the acceptance by a package store of the return of liquor or wine purchased by a customer in error. The State Liquor Authority authorizes package store licensees to accept the return of liquor or wine from a customer only if the merchandise is defective in quality. The bottle should be sealed and tagged with a statement as to the date and reason for its return and should be sent back to the manufacturer or wholesaler from whom it was purchased within a reasonable time.

Does a licensed premises have to take back empty bottle returns if they were not purchased from that premises? Yes, the “dealer” – the retailer – defined by the statute as a person who engages in the sale of beverage containers to a consumer for off-premises consumption in the state, must: accept at his place of business and from any redeemer, any empty beverage containers of the type sold by the dealer, regardless of whether or not the filled beverage container was originally sold by the dealer, and pay the redeemer the refund value of each such beverage container.

What can I do about a noisy or rowdy bar? Contact the police department having jurisdiction at the time the disturbance is occurring. You can also contact the New York State Liquor Authority by way of telephone, written complaint, e-mail, or personal visit to Zone Office. Complainant should make a written record of date, time and nature of disorder documenting specific problems with the licensed premises.

Can a customer bring in his or her own liquor/wine/beer into a licensed restaurant or bar? Yes, with the approval of the licensee and as long as the alcohol product is covered under the license in effect and the patron removes the unconsumed alcoholic beverage upon departing the licensed premises.

How old do you have to be to purchase non-alcoholic beverages? Non-alcoholic beverages do not come within the jurisdiction of the State Liquor Authority, except with respect to the so-called non-alcoholic wines which contain tiny percentages of alcohol. Such wines have been classified by the State Liquor Authority as standard wines that can only be sold in New York State for off-premises consumption by package store licensees. Non-alcoholic products may not be sold in this state by package stores. They may be sold by grocery and delicatessen stores, whether licensed or not. They may be served by on-premises licensees for consumption on the premises, and used by these licensees in the preparation of cocktails and other alcoholic drinks.

What are the provisions of Section 117-a of the ABC law? Unlimited Drink Offerings Prohibited. No licensee, acting individually or in conjunction with one or more licensees shall: offer, sell, serve or deliver to any person or persons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price; allow a person, agent, party organizer, or promoter, as such terms shall be defined by the Authority in rule and regulation to offer, sell, serve, or deliver to any person or persons unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price; or advertise, promote, or charge a price for drinks that in the judgment of the Authority creates an offering of alcoholic beverages in violation of the purposes and intent of this section, or which in the judgment of the Authority is an attempt to circumvent the intent, and purposes of this section, such as, but not limited to, offerings of free drinks, or multiple drinks for free or for the price of a single drink, or for a low initial price followed by a price increment per hour or other period of time, or for such a minor amount that in the judgment of the Authority the pricing would constitute an attempt to circumvent the intent and purposes of this section. With respect to an individual licensee, this section shall not apply to private functions not opened to the public, such as weddings, banquets, or receptions, or other similar functions, or to a package of food and beverages where the service of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the event or function. The State Liquor Authority has determined that 2 for 1, half price and Happy Hour specials whereby the price of a drink is not lower than one-half of the premise’s normal or regular price for the same drink does not constitute an attempt to circumvent, the intent and purpose of this statute.

Are football pools, dice games, sign up sheets illegal? Yes, Sections 106.6 and 105.22 of the ABC Law prohibit gambling in businesses licensed for consumption on and off the premises. This includes social, casual and professional gambling. Exceptions are the sale of lottery tickets when licensed by the Division of the Lottery and bingo or games of chance when authorized by the State Racing and Wagering Board.

Does the authority have tips or training for bartenders? Yes. A recent law enacted by Governor Pataki and the State Legislature provides a voluntary Alcohol Awareness Training Program for people licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in New York State and their employees. The Authority has established requirements for the curriculum of the program and approves schools and other entities to teach the program.

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