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CL Liquor License Lawyers

If you hold a club license for serving alcohol at an establishment, then you don’t need to be told how vital it is as a means of staying in business. But many business owners are unaware of how hard this type of license can be to hang onto. “CL” licenses are regulated by state. While there is some regulatory variety, one common element among them is what’s referred to as “liquor liability”. Liquor liability addresses the legal responsibilities of hosts serving alcohol to guests. Specifically, it means damages caused by intoxicated guests either to themselves or others. Real life examples include falls, drowning, freezing to death, or injuries and fatalities caused by intoxicated driving.

Legally, those who are potentially “liquor liable” are separated into two groups. There are private parties who serve alcohol as part of an unofficial gathering or party. And there are commercial parties who are officially licensed to serve alcohol on their premises as part of their businesses. Hotels, nightclubs, taverns, private clubs, and restaurants all fall under the classification of commercial parties. While there are obviously great differences between these two parties, liquor liability makes some common assumptions about these groups. Liquor liability assumes that:

  • a designated host will be serving alcohol at these locations
  • the host is aware that the potential for intoxication exists
  • the host has a plan for dealing with intoxicated guests

Liquor License Rules Keep Changing

For many years, “liquor liability” was considered met by both private and commercial hosts if intoxicated guests were refused further alcohol and ejected from location premises. As our society became increasingly mobile and offsite accidents involving alcohol increasingly common, a number of states passed “social liability laws”. These laws compel hosts to accept some consequences for the actions of departing guests that the hosts know or suspect are inebriated. This particular liability has proven somewhat controversial, and some states have also passed laws to protect hosts from having to assume social liability for guests under certain circumstances. These rules generally also apply to the hosts of office parties and business events.

The Rules Are Tougher For Club Owners

Commercial enterprises with various kinds of liquor licenses (such as a club license) are another story. Businesses that serve liquor professionally are considered “dram shops” (a dram is a measurement of alcohol), and “dram shop laws” can hold businesses responsible for the actions of intoxicated guests if:

  • establishment workers illegally serve a guest
  • workers deliberately serve a visibly intoxicated guest
  • the serving of alcohol indirectly leads to a third party injury

As with private party hosts, state laws can vary, and most states have some laws in place to protect commercial hosts from certain kinds of litigation. However, many state and community governments have the right to revoke liquor licenses and permits from establishments if they:

  • illegally serve patrons
  • deliberately serve intoxicated patrons
  • attract “undesirable” patrons

Business owners can also lose club liquor licenses if they are found guilty of “moral turpitude”. While definitions are determined by state, moral turpitude is generally defined as allowing gross or vulgar acts to occur. Clubs that knowingly allow prostitutes or drug dealers to solicit clients on an establishment premises would be examples of moral turpitude.

How An Attorney Can Help

Businesses who lose a CL license can’t serve alcohol under any circumstances. CL licenses can be suspended temporarily (from a few months to a year or more) or lost permanently. And the loss of a CL license can often mean that a business owner is permanently barred from obtaining any others. These license losses can occur even if owners have no direct knowledge of events leading to them.

Business owners who are facing hearings from state liquor boards concerning CL licenses shouldn’t risk their reputations or livelihoods. Instead, they should retain legal consul to:

  • review cases
  • interview witnesses
  • file paperwork
  • attend hearings
  • help client to remain in or return to licensing board compliance
  • help to end suspensions and get licenses restored

It’s already challenging enough in the hospitality industry without dealing with the stress of a CL license loss. And with the right legal consul, club owners can protect both their business and patrons and focus on other important issues.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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