Alcohol Sales To Minors: The Three-Strike Rule

The State of California is strict in the way it fines and penalizes vendors who sell liquor to minors. When it comes to a liquor license, 'three strikes and you're out' means a mandatory revocation of your license and the loss of your ability to sell your business with the ABC license to a third party.

At the Law Office of Richard D. Warren, we defend license holders facing suspension or license revocation for sales to minors. To find out how we can help protect your license and your livelihood, please contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Penalties May Include:

  • First violation for sale or furnishing of alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 — A 15-day suspension or fine up $3,000

  • Second violation within 36 months — A 25-day suspension or fine up to $20,000

  • Third violation within 36 months — Revocation (business location may not qualify for new ABC license for at least 12 months)

The only defense to a charge of selling to a minor is that you relied on a government-issued ID that stated that the person was at least 21 years old. The most important strategy for preventing problems is rigorously checking IDs when selling alcoholic beverages. Some establishments with two strikes have a policy to card absolutely everyone — no exceptions.

Don't Wait if You Violate

A license suspension means not being able to sell liquor at all during the period of the suspension. A license revocation means no license for at least a year. A second violation for sales to a minor is very close to being the end of your business. If you get a third violation in a 36-month period, you will lose your license. Therefore, many licensees feel compelled to sell their business when they get the second violation.

After a violation, you may want to consider selling your liquor license to another party. If you sell a license, the record is wiped clean for the establishment. An experienced liquor license lawyer can help you conduct the sale.

There are a few other factors which may affect your case. For example, if a violation for a sale to a minor occurred after seeing a bona fide ID, there may be grounds to have the violation dismissed. Or in a sting operation, if the minor decoy did not strictly comply with the ABC rule for decoys, you may have a defense to the violation.

Questions About Liquor License Violations? Contact Us Today.

If you are in need of an attorney for defense of your liquor license, please call our toll free number, 1-800-262-5647, or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We'd be happy to walk you through the process — from A to B to C.

Statistics from -ABC ACT, Division 9, Chapter 1, Section 25658