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Michigan Reminds Liquor Licensees to Help Ensure Safe Communities this Holiday Season

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280

November 20, 2018 - The consumption of alcoholic beverages during the upcoming holiday season will mean increased sales and bigger crowds for local restaurants, taverns, bars, and other businesses. As the celebrations begin this week for families and friends across the state, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) is offering tips to its 19,000 liquor license holders to help ensure a safe and prosperous holiday season.

“Our licensees create thousands of good-paying jobs and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the state’s budget every year. Their role in the state’s economy is very important,” said MLCC Chairman Andy Deloney. “Job providers can continue to grow their business and protect patrons by educating their employees on how to comply with Michigan’s liquor laws.”

Check Identification to Avoid Serving Minors
Licensees have a legal obligation to determine whether a patron is 21 years or older before selling or serving alcohol to them. Asking customers for valid identification is important and will prevent violations. Licensees can deter the use of fake and false IDs by continually informing minors that – under Michigan law – an attempt to purchase liquor by using a false ID is against the law and is punishable by imprisonment and/or fines.

Minors can access alcohol 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 illegally obtaining alcohol. It may not be widely known that providing alcohol to minors 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 danger – and the punishment – is not worth the risk.

Avoid Over-Serving Intoxicated Customers
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. In fact, Michigan law prohibits licensees from selling or serving alcoholic beverages to individuals who appear to be intoxicated; it is also against the law to allow an intoxicated person to consume alcoholic beverages on their licensed premises.

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

Selling or serving alcoholic beverages to visibly intoxicated individuals is extremely dangerous and could mean severe harm to the intoxicated person and those around them.

“There are many excellent, MLCC-approved training courses available to help licensees and their employees learn how to better identify intoxicated individuals,” said Deloney. “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.”

 Avoid Overcrowding and Know the Legal Hours of Operation  
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 able to move 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. Remember – capacity is more than just a head count.

“In order to stay in compliance with the law, our licensees must ensure their guests are served safely and responsibly by continuing to educate their staff,” said Deloney. “Making sure that policies are applied consistently will allow the business the best chance to grow while keeping their patrons and establishments safe.”

Licensees need to ensure compliance with 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. 

Licensees Play a Vital Safety Role

Maintaining control of the premises is the licensee’s responsibility. During the busy holiday season, liquor licensees should maintain a heightened sense of awareness of any potentially illegal activity, including violence, drugs, and gambling.

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. While licensees do not have enforcement authority, employees can demand that a customer leave the premises and – if the situation appears threatening – may call the police.

For more information about the MLCC, please visit

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