Intoxicating Liquors

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955.  Legal Comment addresses municipal ability to regulate “Click and Collect” sales involving alcohol beverages with curbside delivery and highlights opportunity for municipalities receiving requests to expand premise descriptions to include parking stalls to impose conditions in connection with the expansion. 2/28/18.

954. Municipal social host ordinances regulating drinking by underage persons must be in strict conformity with Wis. Stat. § 125.07 and forfeitures for violations of behavior prohibited under 125.07 under local ordinances enacted pursuant thereto, cannot exceed those allowed under state law. The term “premise” as used in § 125.07(1) refers to “the area described in a license or permit,” as defined in § 125.02(14m), and a municipality regulating conduct covered by § 125.07 cannot define “premise” to include private property. County of Fond du Lac. v. Muche, 2016 WI App 84.

953. Legal opinion concludes that a non-profit, non-stock corporation whose board of directors includes not less than two members of the city council appointed by the mayor and which manages and operates a city golf course "on behalf of" a city who shall be given title to any golf course equipment purchased, given to or otherwise acquired by the corporation is an agent of the city and, therefore, common law of agency and Wis. State. sec. 125.09(6) prohibits the city from issuing a "Class B" retail alcohol beverage license to the corporation.

952. 2015 Wisconsin Act 286 creates the following new options for communities that have no liquor licenses available under the quota system but seek to accommodate restaurants and taverns wanting a liquor license; 1) the regional transfer of unused licenses option; and 2) the Premier Economic Development District option. Act 286 also prohibits municipalities from rebating or refunding the initial $10,000 fee for a reserve “Class B” liquor license. The Act also clarifies that the 300 seat restaurant quota exception only applies to restaurants having an interior permanent seating capacity of 300 or more seats. Act 286 takes effect June 1, 2016. 3/31/16.

951. Summarizes 2015 Wis. Act 62 which, effective Oct. 23, 2015, added chambers of commerce to the list of organizations eligible for temporary Class B beer and wine licenses and authorized municipalities to issue temporary Class B beer and wine licenses for wine and beer walks. The terms “wine walk” or “beer walk” commonly describe a single-day event at which customers are served a glass of beer or wine at multiple locations (e.g., jewelry stores, art galleries, clothing boutiques, salons, furniture stores, etc.) during their shopping.

950. A city must enforce an alcohol regulation prior to renewal in order to establish a violation of the ordinance for consideration at the time of alcohol license renewal and a city may lawfully enforce an ordinance immediately against a preexisting nude dancing establishment when it is brought within a city’s enforcement jurisdiction.

949. 2015 Wis. Act. 55 requires a municipality that has issued a Class “A” beer license to an applicant to grant and issue that same licensee who applies for one a “Class A” cider only license. Municipalities may not charge an initial issuance fee or annual fee for a “Class A” cider license. 7/31/15.

948. 2013 Wis. Act 106 also creates sec. 125.10(5) authorizing municipalities to prohibit, by ordinance, the consumption of fermented malt beverages by passengers on a commercial quadricycle within the municipality. However, 125.10(5) provides that an ordinance enacted before January 1, 2014 regulating the possession or consumption of open containers of alcohol beverages in public places may not prohibit the possession or consumption of alcohol beverages by passengers on a commercial quadricycle and an ordinance inconsistent with sec. 125.10(5)(b) may not be enforced. 4/30/14.

947. Summarizes 2013 Wis. Act 106 which creates sec. 340.01(8m) defining commercial quadricycle and amends sec. 125.09(1), which prohibits persons in control of public places from allowing alcohol consumption in public places without an appropriate license, so that the prohibition does not apply to consumption and carrying of fermented malt beverages on commercial quadricycles, sometimes referred to as pedal pubs. 4/30/14.

946. Wis. Stat. sec. 125.12(2)(d) establishes a statutory right to circuit court certiorari review, not a de novo hearing, for alcohol license applicants. Nowell v. City of Wausau, 2014 WI 88.11/30/13.

945. City’s revocation of liquor license based on written, but unsworn, complaint of police chief is insufficient because the statutory requirement in 125.12(2)(ag) for a sworn citizen’s complaint is not a “meaningless legal trapping” and noncompliance with the requirement is a fundamental error that deprives a municipality of jurisdiction to act on the complaint. Park 6 LLC v. City of Racine, Appeal No. 2011AP2282 (Oct. 12, 2012) (publication recommended). 10/31/12.

944. Judicial review of a municipality's decision not to renew an alcohol beverage license under sec. 125.12(2)(d) is de novo rather than certiorari. Nowell v. City of Wausau, 2011AP1045 (Ct. App. Aug. 21, 2012) (publication recommended) 8/31/12.

943. A license with a broad premise description is not void because it fails to “particularly describe” the premises. Although municipalities need not permit activity in such a broad area, the statutes do not prohibit it. A municipality may attach conditions, including limitations to the described premises, when the license is initially granted but subsequent modifications, especially those that disadvantage the licensee, must be accomplished by enactment of a valid local regulation under Wis. Stat. sec. 125.10(1), by following the procedures outlined in sec. 125.12 for revocation, suspension or renewal, or by negotiating the consent of the licensee. A municipality that unilaterally reduces the description of the premises on renewal exceeds its authority. Wisconsin Dolls, LLC v. Town of Dell Prairie, 2012 WI 76. 7/31/12.

942. Alcohol license issued by licensing authority "must contain sufficient detail to identify the specific areas where the alcohol beverages will be stored or sold or both" and license which fails to do so does not satisfy requirement that license "particularly describe premises for which issued" in violation of Chapter 125 and is void. Wisconsin Dolls, LLC v. Town of Dell Prairie, Appeal No. 2010AP2900 (Ct. App. Sep. 1, 2011) (publication recommended). 8/31/11.

941. Opinion addresses retail alcohol beverage license suspension, revocation and non-renewal procedures and evidence. 9/4/09.

940. Opinion addresses elements of impartiality and bias as it relates to members of alcohol licensing committee as well as recusal. 6/23/09.

939. 2009 Wisconsin Act 28 creates a narrow exception to the state-imposed quota on the number of "Class B" liquor licenses a municipality can issue. The provision allows municipalities to issue additional "Class B" liquor licenses to qualified applicants located in capital improvement areas designated by the Legislature. Act 28 designates TIF District No. 3 in Oconomowoc as the first and only capital improvement area in the state, thus enabling Oconomowoc to issue additional licenses if certain other specified conditions are met. Wis. Stat. sec. 125.51(4)(x). 7/31/09.

938. Agreement by 24 bar owners near university campus to restrict weekend alcohol beverage drink specials, under intense pressure and threat of direct regulation from controlling municipality, was intended by the legislature to be immune from antitrust liability under Hallie I "implied repeal" doctrine where the legislature granted municipalities broad power to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol beverages. Eichenseer v. Madison-Dane County Tavern League, 2008 WI 38, __ Wis. 2d __, __ N.W.2d __. 5/31/08.

937R2. Legal comment gives primer on alcohol licenses, covering when licenses are necessary, what classes of licenses exist and what each authorizes. Briefly covers quota on “Class B” liquor licenses and granting and denying licenses. 4/30/14.

937R1. Legal comment gives primer on alcohol licenses, covering when licenses are necessary, what classes of licenses exist and what each authorizes. Briefly covers quota on “Class B” liquor licenses and granting and denying licenses. 4/30/10.

937. Legal comment gives primer on alcohol licenses, covering when licenses are necessary, what classes of licenses exist and what each authorizes. Briefly covers quota on "Class B" liquor licenses and granting and denying licenses. 4/30/06.

936. Municipal ordinance restricting validity of operators' licenses to particular establishments and effectively requiring that bartenders obtain operator's license for each establishment they work in would be unlawful local regulation under Wis. Stat. sec. 125.10 because it would violate sec. 125.17(2) which provides that operators' licenses may not be required other than for the purpose of complying with secs. 125.32(2) and 125.68(2). 11/31/03.

935. Discusses state budget act provisions that modify enforcement of state video gambling provisions found in secs. 945.03(2m) and 945.04(2m), Stats., and the impact of these changes on local regulation of video gambling and other gambling activity. 9/30/03.

934. Municipalities may prohibit the sale, use or consumption of alcohol on the premises of sexually oriented businesses. Ben's Bar, Inc. v. Village of Somerset, Case No. 01-4351 (7th Cir., Jan. 17, 2003). 2/28/03.

933. If territory containing premises covered by a non-reserve or reserve Class B liquor license is annexed to a municipality and if the municipality's quota would not otherwise allow a non-reserve or reserve Class B liquor license for the premises, the municipality's quota is increased to include the license of each premises in the annexed territory. Detachment of territory decreases a municipality's quota of non-reserve or reserve Class B liquor licenses by the number of non-reserve or reserve Class B liquor licenses issued for premises in the detached territory, except that detachment does not decrease the quota of the remainder to less than one license per 500 persons or less than one license. See sec. 125.41(c) and (d), Stats., created by 2001 Wis. Act 49, effective April 17, 2002. 4/30/02

932. Ordinance establishing economic development grant program which allows successful applicants for reserve liquor licenses who have paid the minimum $10,000 initial issuance fee to apply for grant was not unconstitutional and withstood challenges that it violated the public purpose doctrine and was sham legislation designed to evade the will of the legislature. Alexander v. City of Madison, No. 00-2692 (Wis. Ct. App. Aug. 2, 2001) (publication recommended). 7/31/01.

931. Briefly summarizes a Dane County Circuit Court decision upholding the constitutionality of a City of Madison ordinance authorizing persons granted reserve "Class B" liquor licenses to apply for and receive an economic development grant of $10,000. See Alexander v. City of Madison, No. 99 CV 0817 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Dane County Sep. 7, 2000). The court concluded that the ordinance complied with the public purpose doctrine. 8/31/00.

930. Ordinance prohibiting the issuance of Class A beer and liquor licenses to a "premises where a retail or wholesale grocery store, convenience store, service station, gas station or similar business is operated" is susceptible to challenge. If challenged, the ordinance would likely be found to be an arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of the police power based on State ex rel. Grand Bazaar Liquors v. City of Milwaukee, 105 Wis.2d 203, 313 N.W.2d 805 (1982), and League legal opinions Intoxicating Liquors 855A, 873, 901, 905, and 916. 6/21/00.

929. A municipality may enact an ordinance pursuant to its general police powers (i.e., sec. 62.11(5), Wis. Stats., for cities and sec. 61.34(1), Wis. Stats., for villages) and sec. 125.10, Wis. Stats., conditioning the initial issuance or renewal of a license on the applicant having paid any outstanding municipal utility charges. Such an ordinance, however, must apply to all licenses issued by the municipality, not just alcohol beverage licenses. Tavern League of Wisconsin v. City of Madison, 131 Wis.2d 477, 389 N.W.2d 54 (Ct. App. 1986). Also, a municipality must follow the minimum due process procedures set forth in sec. 125.12, Wis. Stats., before suspending or non-renewing an alcohol beverage license for nonpayment of delinquent municipal utility charges. Id. 11/9/99.

928. Referendum is required to close municipal liquor store. See secs. 125.05(1) and (c), Stats. 5/1999.

927. Section 125.07(3), Stats., prohibits underage persons not accompanied by their parent, guardian or spouse who has attained the legal drinking age from entering or being in a bar or tavern which has a Class B beer or liquor license to eat food unless the bar's principal business is that of a restaurant or one of the other various exceptions to the prohibition in sec. 125.07(3), Stats., applies. 9/14/98.

926. A municipality's number of "Class B" liquor licenses increases by one for each increase of 500 population or fraction thereof to the population estimated by the Department of Administration in October 1997 and recorded by the municipal clerk, pursuant to 1997 Wisconsin Act 27, as of December 1, 1997. Sec. 125.51(4)(br)2, Stats. Therefore, if in October 1998 the Department of Administration estimates a municipality's population has increased by merely a single person (i.e., a fraction of 500), the municipality's number of "Class B" licenses will increase by 1. However, the next increase in the number of "Class B" licenses the municipality is authorized to issue will occur only after the municipality's population increases by 501 over the population estimate given by the Department of Administration in October 1997 and recorded by the clerk on December 1, 1997. 10/30/98.

925. Municipality can enact ordinance requiring that a licensee open premises a minimum number of hours weekly, pursuant to sec. 125.10, Stats., and have failure to be open the requisite number of hours be grounds for revocation, suspension or non-renewal. A municipality may impose a new requirement during the licensing year. Such an ordinance may be stronger with a purpose clause and some exceptions so that it does not work a hardship on licensees who need to close temporarily for legitimate reasons. (1/28/98).

924. Answers a number of questions concerning the "Class B" liquor license quota law changes made by the State Budget Act (1997 Wisconsin Act 27). Addresses, in particular, questions relating to the newly created reserve "Class B" liquor license and the minimum $10,000 initial issuance fee applicable to such licenses. 12/31/97.

923. Describes several major changes to the alcohol beverage licensing laws contained in the 1997-99 State Budget (1997 Wisconsin Act 27), including a significant change in the quota system applicable to "Class B" liquor licenses; the creation of reserve "Class B" licenses and a requirement that municipalities establish a minimum $10,000 initial issuance fee for reserve "Class B" licenses. 10/31/97.

922. Wisconsin courts have consistently held that state law does not confer upon a qualified applicant an absolute right to a retail liquor or beer license. Rather, the decision to grant or deny an alcohol beverage license is within the full discretion of the municipal governing body. 2/1997.

921. Describes the qualifications which applicants for retail beer and liquor licenses and operators' or managers' licenses must meet before they can be granted a license. 2/1997.

920. 1995 Wisconsin Act 23, effective July 15, 1995, requires municipalities issuing retail alcohol beverage licenses to issue provisional retail licenses. Sec. 125.185, Stats.

919. 1995 Wisconsin Act 23, effective July 15, 1995, exempts persons who have been agents for corporations or limited liability companies within the past two years from completing the responsible beverage server training course requirement which was made applicable to agents and applicants for retail licenses November 1, 1994. 7/1995.

918. Softball league needs a license to sell beer during home games. City can issue temporary Class "B" picnic license, and there is no limit on number of temporary picnic licenses which can be issued to one group, but to be eligible for a picnic beer license the league must be a bona fide club which has been in existence for at least 6 months. Section 125.26(6), Stats. 6/1995.

917. If a city ordinance restricts the grant of Class A liquor and beer licenses to single-purpose businesses (i.e., liquor stores) and the city annexes a multi-purpose business (i.e., grocery store, convenience store/gas station) which has an existing Class "A" license and continues to renew its license so that it can continue to sell fermented malt beverages, the city's ability to deny the applications of other multi-purpose businesses for Class "A" fermented malt beverage licenses may be impaired and the ordinance more susceptible to challenge. See Wisconsin Wine and Spirit Institute v. Ley, 141 Wis. 2d 958, 416 N.W.2d 914, 918 (Ct. App. 1987). 2/1995.

916. A municipality is not prohibited from enacting an ordinance which restricts the grant of Class A liquor and beer licenses to single-purpose stores (i.e., liquor stores as opposed to grocery stores, convenience stores or gas stations). However, a municipality which does so must have good reasons for doing so which are rationally related to the public health, safety, morals or welfare. See State ex rel. Grand Bazaar Liquors v. City of Milwaukee, 105 Wis. 2d 203, 313 N.W.2d 805 (1982). 2/1995.

915. Reminds clerks and other local officials that beginning November 1, 1994, applicants for retail alcohol beverage licenses (i.e., "Class A" liquor, Class "A" beer, "Class B" liquor, Class "B" beer and "Class C" wine licenses) must successfully complete a responsible beverage server training course in order to qualify for a license. 8/1994.

914. Briefly discusses a governing body's broad discretionary power regarding whether and to whom an alcohol beverage license may be issued. 8/1994.

913. Describes changes made to ch. 125, Stats., by the 1993-94 Legislature, including the new requirement that applicants for all classes of retail alcohol beverage licenses complete a responsible alcohol beverage server training course in order to qualify for a license. See 125.04(5)(a)5, Stats.

912. In prosecuting a violation of an ordinance based on sec. 125.07(4), Stats., which prohibits an underage person who is not accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse who has attained the legal drinking age from knowingly possessing or consuming alcohol beverages, it is not the municipal attorney's responsibility to prove that the underage person was not accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse who has attained legal drinking age. Also concludes, based on In the Interest of R.B., 108 Wis. 2d 494, 322 N.W.2d 502 (Ct. App. 1982), that the presence of alcohol in a person's stomach would not constitute "possession" of alcohol under sec. 125.07(4), Stats. 3/1994.

911. Provides an overview of the alcohol beverage licensing process and addresses some of the most frequently asked questions in this area. 2/1994.

910. A municipal governing body may delegate to a municipal official, such as the clerk or administrator, the power to issue operators licenses as long as sufficient standards are established to guide the official in issuing the licenses. 6/1993.

909. Municipalities that are dry by referendum may not issue retail licenses for the sale of fermented malt beverages or intoxicating liquor unless another referendum is held at least two years after the previous election and a majority of the municipal electors vote in favor of the municipality issuing alcohol licenses. 6/1993. 

908R2. Discusses the issuance of temporary (picnic) beer and wine licenses, as well as temporary operator's licenses, and the temporary amendment of described premises to allow the sale of alcohol outside during a specified time period. 2/27/10.

908R. Discusses the issuance of temporary (picnic) beer and wine licenses, as well as temporary operator's licenses, and the temporary amendment of described premises to allow the sale of alcohol outside during a specified time period. 5/31/02.

890R1. Discusses Wisconsin Fair Employment Act limitations on use of arrest and conviction records in alcohol licensing decisions in general, and gives particular attention to case law discussing the "substantial relationship" test and the meaning of the term "habitual offender" under Wis. Stat. sec. 125.04(5). 11/30/04