Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Qualification of Persons

The Department of Alcohol Beverage Control has some very strict requirements in order to qualify for a license.  The Business & Professions Code, section 23958, states (in part), that the Department shall:

  • “make a thorough investigation to determine whether the applicant and the premises…qualify for a license…”
  • “investigate all matters therewith which may affect the public welfare and morals…”
  • “Deny an application…if issuance…would tend to create a law enforcement problem, or if issuance would result in or add to an undue concentration of licenses…”

So, not only must you qualify, but you must withstand a request for public comment, convince ABC that your activity will not run against the public welfare or morals, and that your business would not be creating further law enforcement problems.

Additionally, you may have additional application materials and hurdles to jump through, based on the type of entity structure you will use to conduct business. Qualification requirements can extend to Officers and Directors, General Partners, and certain owners, even the spouses of some of individuals, depending on a variety of factors.

Potential Disqualifications Of Persons

The primary reasons someone may be denied an ABC license are due to the following:

  • Criminal records
  • “Tied-House” Issues

Criminal Records
Crimes of moral turpitude are the primary disqualification in this category, but several other offenses will disqualify an individual and ABC takes situations on a case-by-case basis.  If you have any criminal convictions, you would need to provide ABC with several pieces of information in order to move past this stage.  ABC will consider things like:

  • How bad was offense?
  • How often was the offense committed?
  • How recent was the offense committed?
  • What evidence of rehabilitation can you provided?  (i.e., stable job history, other issues with the law, and community/family activities).

Tied-House Issues
A “tied-house” issue is basically a conflict of interest issue.  Essentially, any person with an interest in a manufacturer or wholesaler may be prohibited from having an interest in a retailer of alcohol.  There are certain factors to consider when determining whether this will be an issue for you or not, and every state has different rules on this topic.

This can be a daunting experience and can severely delay your licensing application if not handled appropriately.  For this reason, it’s extremely important to have qualified Counsel on your side from the beginning.  To discuss your goals, and ABC application, call our office immediately.

For information about qualifying your premises, check out that page here.