Impairments and Alcohol Beverage Licensing

Obtaining an alcoholic beverage license, whether vendor, distributor, manufacturer or importer requires the submission of appropriate and qualifying application materials to the licensing authorities. The first step in the process is to be certain that the applicant individual and/or entity is not impaired and will not be denied the privilege of holding a license. Put another way, the question is – is there something in the applicants past that will disqualify them from initial licensure? Federal regulatory authorities and every state alcohol regulatory authority has codified items that will impair an applicant. Below is a look at qualifications required by TTB (federal) and the State of Florida, as example, for the issuance of a license. If these minimum standards are not met, licensure may be denied.

Federal Licensing Qualifications-From the Federal Code of Regulations

1.24 Qualifications of applicants.

The application of any person shall be granted, and the permit issued by the appropriate TTB officer if the applicant proves to the satisfaction of the appropriate TTB officer that:

(a) Such person (or in case of a corporation, any of its officers, directors, or principal stockholders) has not, within 5 years prior to the date of application, been convicted of a felony under Federal or State law, and has not, within 3 years prior to date of application, been convicted of a misdemeanor under any Federal law relating to liquor, including the taxation thereof; and

(b) Such person, by reason of the person’s business experience, financial standing or trade connections, is likely to commence operations as a distiller, warehouseman and bottler, rectifier, wine producer, wine blender, importer, or wholesaler, as the case may be, within a reasonable period and to maintain such operations in conformity with Federal law; and

(c) The operations proposed to be conducted by such person are not in violation of the law of the State in which they are to be conducted.

State of Florida Qualifications-From Florida Statute

561.15 Licenses; qualifications required.

(1) Licenses shall be issued only to persons of good moral character who are not less than 21 years of age. Licenses to corporations shall be issued only to corporations whose officers are of good moral character and not less than 21 years of age. There shall be no exemptions from the license taxes herein provided to any person, association of persons, or corporation, any law to the contrary notwithstanding.

(2) No license under the Beverage Law shall be issued to any person who has been convicted within the last past 5 years of any offense against the beverage laws of this state, the United States, or any other state; who has been convicted within the last past 5 years in this state or any other state or the United States of soliciting for prostitution, pandering, letting premises for prostitution, or keeping a disorderly place or of any criminal violation of chapter 893 or the controlled substance act of any other state or the Federal Government; or who has been convicted in the last past 15 years of any felony in this state or any other state or the United States; or to a corporation, any of the officers of which shall have been so convicted. The term “conviction” shall include an adjudication of guilt on a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or the forfeiture of a bond when charged with a crime.

It’s fair to say that the above qualifications are rigid. There are instances, however, where cases have been made that an applicant, whose application on its face, appears to disqualify them, has been granted licensure.