Liquor Licensees Reminded to Help Keep Their Communities Safe this Holiday Season

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

November 20, 2017
 - The holidays are a time for fun and celebration with family and friends and many will choose to include the consumption of alcoholic beverages as part of their celebration. This will mean increased sales and bigger crowds for local restaurants, taverns, and other businesses. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission is once again offering tips for the state’s 19,000 liquor license holders to help ensure a safe and prosperous holiday season.

“Our licensees play a very important role in the state’s economy, contributing billions of dollars to the state’s economy and creating thousands of good-paying jobs,” said MLCC Chairman Andy Deloney. “By educating their employees on how to comply with Michigan’s liquor laws, job providers can continue to grow their business and protect patrons.”

Serving Minors/Checking Identification 

Licensees have a legal obligation to determine whether a patron is 21 years or older before selling or serving alcohol to them. Asking for valid identification is easy and will prevent violations. Deter the use of false identification (ID) by informing minors that under Michigan law, an attempt to purchase liquor by using a false ID is a misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment and civil fines.

Other ways that minors can access alcohol is through friends and family who are of legal drinking age. That’s why the MLCC has teamed up with the “21 to Buy, Not Supply” campaign to help prevent minors from obtaining alcohol. Many may not know that this is a major offense that can lead to $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail. While some may be tempted to let minors drink during the holidays, the punishment – and the danger – is not worth the risk.

“The key for Michigan’s licensees is to make sure to stay in compliance with the law to ensure their guests are served safely and responsibly, and to avoid fines and penalties for violations,” said Deloney. “They should continue to educate their staff in order to make sure policies are applied consistently. This will make sure to give their business the best chance to grow while keeping their patrons and establishments safe.”

Intoxicated Customers/Over-Serving

Michigan law prohibits licensees from selling or serving alcoholic beverages to individuals who appear to be intoxicated. They are also prohibited from allowing an intoxicated person to consume alcoholic beverages on their licensed premises. It is the licensee’s responsibility to make certain that no one becomes intoxicated in their business, and that any intoxicated person who enters their establishment is not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol.

There are serious penalties for selling alcoholic beverages to intoxicated individuals, including criminal penalties, fines and possible license revocation. The licensee may also be held liable in civil suits when the sale or furnishing of alcoholic beverages is found to be the proximate cause of damage, injury or death of an innocent party.

More importantly, however, selling and serving alcoholic beverages to visibly intoxicated individuals is extremely dangerous, and could mean severe harm to the intoxicated person and those around them.

“It is extremely important that staff remain vigilant while on the job to make sure they are aware when a patron has had too much to drink,” said Deloney. “There are many excellent training courses available to help licensees and their employees learn how to better identify intoxicated individuals.”

Contact the MLCC regarding server training programs. 

Overcrowding and Hours of Operation

Capacity is not just a head count. Overcrowding can lead to altercations and obstructed exits, and is a safety and fire hazard. Know your establishment’s capacity level to ensure a safe and enjoyable time for your guests. Have management and staff observe if people are moving freely around the establishment. If the capacity of your business has not been determined by local authorities, please check with the MLCC for the specific guidelines found within the liquor code.

Licensees need to ensure management and staff knows and understands Michigan’s laws regarding hours of operation during the holidays:

  • Christmas: The sale of alcoholic beverages must end on Christmas Eve, December 24, by midnight and may not begin again until 12:00 noon on Christmas Day, December 25. Normal legal hours for alcohol sales resume on December 26.
  • New Year’s Day: For on-premises licensees, the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited between 4:00am and 7:00am on January 1. Off-premises licensees are prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages between 2:00am and 7:00am on January 1. 

Important Role

During the busy holiday season, liquor licensees should maintain a heightened sense of awareness of potentially illegal activity, including violence, drugs, and gambling. Maintaining control of the premises is the licensee’s responsibility. Keep order and control of the premises by constant observance of patrons and situations. Establish a policy and procedure for staff to report suspected illegal activity to management. Licensees do not have enforcement authority, and cannot arrest anyone. However, employees can demand that a customer leave the premises. If the situation appears threatening, call the local police.

For more information about the MLCC, please visit http://www.michigan.gov/lcc
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