Located in ~ the state Business, consumer Services and Housing Agency, California’s room of alcoholic Beverage manage (ABC) enforces the state’s voluminous and exquisitely in-depth liquor laws, contained in the alcoholic Beverage control Act. Any kind of establishment in California involved with alcohol must have a patent or allow from the ABC. This contains manufacturing, distribution, wholesale and retail sales, unavoidable beer at house or also offering sangria in ~ a fundraiser. The department supplies census data to identify the maximum variety of liquor licenses allowed in a specific area and may impose bans on new licenses or restrictions on the deliver of licenses. Almost 430 attorneys, clerks, investigators and sworn regulation enforcement experts work at the ABC and also oversee the issuance and also maintenance that the state’s 80,000 abc permits. The department is transitioning to the new Business, consumer Services and also Housing agency by mid-2013.

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Alcoholic Beverage control Act (ABC website)

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Prior to 1955, state liquor laws were overseen by the alcoholic Beverage Commission, an eight of California’s plank of Equalization (the state’s taxation collector).

The ABC became an independent room in the executive branch in 1955 and also steadily prospered in size and also scope. It at this time is headquartered in Sacramento, v two district offices covering northern and southern California, respectively, and 24 local offices scattered transparent the state.

Part that the inspiration for the agency’s creation was a 1951 California supreme Court decision that a liquor license could not be suspended simply because an facility catered to homosexuals. The case, Stoumen vs. Reilly, was brought after the black color Cat Bar in san Francisco shed its license following a severe of law enforcement raids. The court ruled that the authorities required "proof that the commission of illegal or immoral acts on the premises." In response, California passed a constitution amendment producing the department and also authorized it come shut down any kind of “resort sex-related perverts." The court struck down this provision together unconstitutional and also emphasized the behavior, not sexual orientation, to be the sole determinant the illegality.

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What it Does:

The ABC has the exclusive strength to license, regulate and also control the manufacture, importation and also sale of every alcoholic beverages throughout California. It also has the strength to deny, suspend or revoke any details alcoholic beverage license, for great cause, after ~ a windy hearing. Together of June 30, 2010, there were 81,754 active ABC permits.

The alphabet performs three basic functions: “inspection, compliance and also administration.”

Applicants for a state patent to market alcohol have their “moral character and also fitness” scrutinized through ABC field inspectors before issuance of a license, which calls for approval at three levels: at among the ABC’s field offices, at a district office and also finally at its Sacramento headquarters. Alphabet staff members additionally respond come alleged hurt of the alcoholic Beverage manage Act native local legislation enforcement and the general public. The department’s investigators space sworn California peace officers and also may do arrests and carry firearms. The complicated application and inspection process has spawned a cottage sector of legislation firms specializing in liquor license issues. License holders are subject to routine and also random inspections through the ABC. Department staff may additionally respond to complaints by citizen or local law enforcement. Patent holders must, at any time, open up their basic to inspection by abc peace police officers or local law enforcement, v or without a find warrant.

The alcoholic Beverage regulate Act lists couple of qualifications because that holders that a license. An applicant need to only show that a new liquor license will certainly “serve publicly convenience or necessity.” The department conducts background check of all applicants and also may decline to problem a permit if one applicant has a criminal background.

When a citizen applies for a brand-new liquor patent or transfer of a liquor license, the ABC notifies the local government. Publicly notices are posted at the establishment wishing to sell liquor and in local media. Any citizens wishing to challenge the providing of a license might do so in ~ a 30-day period. Government entities, such as a city council or county board of supervisors, have actually 90 job to notify the alphabet of a factor for contesting the permit, such as proof that the issuance the a permit would reason a windy nuisance.

The ABC likewise imposes strict constraints on the number of liquor licenses allowed in locales throughout the state based upon population: one patent for every 2,500 people. Since the ABC will certainly not issue brand-new liquor patent in countless places, the ABC likewise oversees and in some situations restricts the sale and also transfer of currently liquor licenses.

Currently, the ABC concerns over 70 different varieties of licenses, from alcohol rectifiers to California brandy distributors to dockside permits.

All alphabet licenses room subject to distinct restrictions, enforced as the room sees fit. For example, a liquor store in a high crime area can be subjected to restricted operating hours, or can be granted a probationary permit, to be expanded to a complete permit after ~ investigations and hearings.

The abc collects annual fees from allow holders, varying from $54 because that a little vintner come $1,200 because that a large-scale brewery.

Alcoholic Beverage licenses (Department of alcohol addict Beverage Control) (pdf)

Licenses and Fees (Justia.com)

where Does the Money Go:

The abc is a non-general money department, meaning its spending plan is no funded through state or neighborhood taxes. That operating budget is funded entirely by liquor patent fees: fees paid by brand-new applicants for permits, renewal fees payment by permit-holders, and also suspension or various other penalty fees applied by permit-holders uncovered by the abc to it is in in violation that liquor laws.

All except $3 million the the state’s liquor patent fees is supplied for employee salaries, benefits, operating expenses and equipment.

Official 3-Year spending plan (pdf)


Crackdown ~ above House-Infused Cocktails

In at an early stage 2010, the ABC educated bars the infused their own cocktails–i.e., house-made bitters or various other solutions do in-house, such together fruit-flavored vodka the the infusions were versus the law. Bar owners and bar trade company members accused the abc of selectively making use of arcane language initially aimed in ~ moonshiners in its interpretation that infusions broke the law.

Legislation was presented in in march 2011 that more clearly delineates the difference between infusions and also the form of danger concoctions peddled roughly the time of ban a century ago.

State cautions Bay Area Bars not to Infuse drinks (by Demian Bulwa, mountain Francisco Chronicle)

Wherein the abc Decides the Infusions and Bitters are Illegal (by Jamie Zawinski, DNA Lounge)

Infusing company Regulations with usual Sense (State Senator mark Leno website)

License delays

State budgetary woes have actually reportedly helped slow the issuance of liquor licenses. What provided to be a 90-day wait may now take it up to 6 months. The delays were attributed come a new computer system and also 3-day-a-month staff furloughs notified by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger beginning in February 2009. At issue are an approximated 7,000 yearly license transfers and 13,000 new licenses. Restaurant and also store owners allude to the delays as an impediment to recovery from the recession. Drinkers make this point: “Particularly with the recession, … human being still perform like come drink, if something now much more than ever.”

Liquor license Backlog in California a poor Mix (by Marisa Lagos, mountain Francisco Chronicle)

Crackdown top top All-Ages occasions

A grasp of license holders in mountain Francisco who organized all-ages occasions at their venues confronted fines or revocation because, abc alleged, castle did not serve enough food. After an extensive and high-quality court proceedings, the abc dropped the allegations.

Ageless Music: The battle Between Venues and ABC (by Jessica Goss, mountain Francisco News Hub)

State go After legend All-Ages Music Clubs (by Marisa Lagos, san Francisco Chronicle)

Budget cuts

The alphabet is no stranger to discussions over the budget. Faced with a budget imbalance in 1991, Gov. Pete Wilson cut $5 million indigenous the department’s $23 million annual funding. A 75% palliation in agents was expected, but layoffs were avoided once a number of them left voluntarily. However, by 1993, when much of the capital was restored, the crippling impact on enforcement was evident statewide. "That was our brain trust," claimed one investigation supervisor in Santa Ana.

State Liquor Sales Investigators Raring to Get back to company (by Eric Young, Los Angeles Times)

Liquor company Stages Raid (by George Ramos, Los Angeles Times)

argued Reforms:

Although there space no significant reforms pending in California, the national Highway website traffic Safety administration issued a collection of references in 2005 because that the states to think about to reduce death and injury on the roadways from alcohol-related activities. The study uncovered that, in general, state organ don’t have sufficient agents to monitor licensees, have bad record keeping, use penalties inconsistently and lack effective administrative processes. In addition to correcting those deficiencies, the report recommended much more public joining (perhaps through “court watch” monitoring comparable to tasks of Mothers against Drunk Driving).

The duty of Alcohol Beverage manage Agencies in the Enforcement and Adjudication that Alcohol legislations (National Highway Traffic security Administration) (pdf)


Too lot Detail?

The minutest details room covered in the state alcoholic Beverage manage Act, including what a bar owner may place on the sidewalk in front of the establishment, exactly how much that a bar window may it is in taken increase by signage (33%) and also whether a neighborhood college may enable wine in ~ a fundraiser. (They can, thanks to law passed in 2010.) In 2008, an virtual publication had a number of alcohol-related regulations in its list of “The Crazy laws of California.” amongst them: “California only fairly recently legalized the sale of alcoholic beverages in nudist colonies;” “It is a violation the the California alcoholic Beverage manage Act for producers that alcohol beverages to perform the names of retailers or restaurants that offer their products in heralding or even in newsletters;” and also “No alcohol beverages can be presented within 5 feet that a cash register of any store in California that sells both alcohol and motor fuel” unless it is in a permanently affixed cooler.

Regulating Marijuana

Medical marijuana users and also the public facilities they constant have operation afoul the the ABC since the alcoholic Beverage control Act prohibits the sale or usage of “illegal drugs” in areas holding an alphabet permit. While medical marijuana has been legal since 1996, this ar has had actually a twin effect. Bar owners who allow patients to “medicate” on-site face fines or loss of license, ensuring that medical marijuana and also alcohol room not marketed side-by-side. This has also been supplied by law enforcement to deter establishments from hosting events that cater to medical marijuana patients.

Yet, it is feasible the department could be tasked later on with regulation marijuana in the state. The marijuana legalization bill presented in 2009 by autonomous Assemblyman Tom Ammiano offered the alphabet as a structure for exactly how legal to chat marijuana use could be regulated and taxed, and suggested using the alphabet as the regulatory body because that marijuana users. That bill failed, as did Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization ballot initiative which would have actually left regulation up to the legislature.

San Francisco “Cannabis Competition” destroyed By The man (by chris Roberts, SF Weekly)

previous Directors:

Stephen “Steve” Hardy, 2007-2011. Hardy, a democratic former city councilman in Vacaville and also former san Francisco police officer, was appointed head that the abc by Gov. Schwarzenegger. During Hardy’s tenure, the ABC raised fee expenses by much more than 12%. Abc enforcement action were viewed as “anti-entertainment” by city club and bar owners, who accused hardy of enforcing arcane rules. Stress peaked in early 2009 as soon as state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) accused Hardy’s abc of “running roughshod” end late-night businesses and threatened to audit the department, a risk not carried out.

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Jerry R. Jolly, 2004-2006. Jolly functioned on and also off for the ABC since 1975. Jolly hosted a selection of location in the department, including 4 years with the director’s executive staff, deputy department chief, chief of internal affairs, and training and district administrator. Jolly additionally served as program manager because that the give Assistance Program, Every 15 minute program, and also the federal Licensee education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) program through the Office of website traffic Safety. The attended conference 192 in ~ the FBI nationwide Academy in 1998 and also has to be a member that several legislation enforcement-related organizations. Jolly offered as interim director for the California Office of real Estate Appraisers indigenous 1998 to 2001. He had been acting director at abc for 2 years prior to Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed him manager in 2004. Jolly left the room to become a consultant for the Wine, Beer and Spirits law practice in ~ Pillsbury Winthrop demonstrate Pittman. The is not a lawyer.