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Liquor Licensees Reminded of Regulations to Keep it Safe for Patrons Over the Holidays

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517 355 LARA (5272)

December 16, 2019 – Checking ID, not serving minors and knowing the signs of customer intoxication are just a few important reminders for the state’s liquor licensees to keep patrons safe as they host increased crowds in their restaurants, bars and other establishments this holiday season. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) today reminds the state’s 19,000 liquor license holders of the laws and guidelines that will help ensure safety and add to the success of their businesses.   

“Liquor licensees and their businesses are huge contributors to our state’s economy through job creation and revenue paid through taxes,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. “Especially during this busy holiday season, we commend our licensees and their employees for vigilance in complying with Michigan’s liquor laws for patron safety and business prosperity.”

Check ID – It’s Illegal to Serve Minors

Licensees have a legal obligation to determine whether a patron is 21 years or older before selling or serving alcohol to them. Ask customers for valid identification to prevent violations and deter the use of false IDs. Inform minors that an attempt to purchase liquor by using a false ID is against Michigan law and is punishable by imprisonment and/or fines. Providing alcohol to minors is a major offense that can lead to $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail – certainly not worth the risk of letting minors drink during the holidays.

Serving Intoxicated Customers is Illegal

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 licensed premises. Licensees are also responsible for making certain that no one becomes intoxicated in their establishment. Selling alcoholic beverages to intoxicated individuals can result in serious consequences – including criminal penalties, fines and possible license suspension or revocation. A licensee may also be held liable in civil litigation if the sale or furnishing of alcoholic beverages is found to be the proximate cause of damage, injury or death of an innocent party.

“Management and staff must know the signs and be constantly watchful of patrons who have had too much to drink,” said Gagliardi. “MLCC has approved many training courses that are available for licensees and their employees to learn how to better identify intoxicated individuals.”

Know the Legal Holiday Hours of Operation  

  • 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. 

Avoid Overcrowding

Keep an eye on potential overcrowding that can lead to altercations and obstructed exits which are safety and fire hazards. Know your establishment’s capacity level and constantly be aware of patrons’ ability to move freely through the establishment. For businesses that have not had its capacity determined by local authorities, please check with MLCC for the specific guidelines found within the liquor code. Capacity is more than just a head count.

Maintain Order and Control, Report Illegal Activity

Licensees are responsible for maintaining order and control of their premises at all times. Keep a heightened sense of awareness of patrons and situations for any potentially illegal activity, including violence, drugs and gambling. 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.

Compliance Through Continuing Education

“Staying in compliance with the liquor laws and regulations takes a concerted effort by management and staff through continuing education on regulations to ensure customers are served safely and responsibly,” said Gagliardi. “Licensees should also develop policies to keep patrons and their establishments safe, apply those policies consistently and update them as necessary.”

It is the mission of MLCC to make alcoholic beverages available for consumption while protecting the consumer and the general public through regulation of those involved in the sale and distribution of these alcohol beverage products. MLCC licenses all retailers, wholesalers and other individuals or businesses involved in the manufacture, purchase, sale or use of alcohol beverages.

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