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Pouring responsibly: Common ABC license violations in San Diego

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Firm News

San Diego’s vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene rely heavily on a well-regulated alcohol service industry. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) ensures responsible alcohol sales through licensing and enforcement. Obtaining an ABC license allows businesses to sell alcoholic beverages, but with that privilege comes responsibility. Violations of these regulations can lead to serious consequences, including fines, suspensions or even revocation of your license.

If you own or manage a business with an ABC license in San Diego, staying informed about common violations is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of some key areas to be mindful of:

Protecting young people: Underage sales are a big deal

California law strictly prohibits selling or furnishing alcohol to anyone under 21. Here’s how to avoid violations:

  • Card every time: Always check for a valid government-issued photo ID to verify age before every sale. Keep in mind that busy nights are not a valid excuse for checking ID.
  • Fake ID awareness: Staff should be trained to identify fake identification. Invest in resources to identify common forgeries and refuse service if an ID is suspicious.
  • Furnishing to minors: This applies to knowingly allowing underage consumption on your premises. Even if a minor obtains alcohol from someone else, the business can be held liable if staff ignores clear signs of intoxication.

Penalties for underage sales can be severe, including hefty fines and potential license suspension. Don’t risk your business’s future by overlooking this crucial regulation.

Maintaining a safe environment: Over-serving and intoxication

Another critical responsibility is ensuring responsible alcohol consumption by patrons. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Over-serving: Serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons is a significant violation. Staff should be trained to identify signs of intoxication, like slurred speech, unsteady balance or aggressive behavior. Refusing further service when necessary is essential.
  • Disorderly conduct: Maintaining a safe and orderly environment is crucial. If a patron becomes belligerent or disruptive due to intoxication, take steps to de-escalate the situation and remove them from the premises if needed. Having a clear plan for handling disruptive behavior helps ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Fighting and violence: Alcohol-related violence is a serious offense. A plan to address altercations, including involving security or contacting law enforcement, is vital.

Remember, by prioritizing responsible alcohol service, you create a safe and enjoyable environment for your patrons and protect your business from potential legal trouble.

Beyond the basics: Additional areas to consider

Here are some other areas where ABC violations can occur:

  • Selling during restricted hours: Each license type has specific permitted sale times. Be aware of your limitations and avoid selling outside those hours.
  • False advertising: Advertising happy hour specials or discounts that violate ABC regulations can lead to trouble.
  • Employing individuals without permits: Some staff, like bartenders or security personnel, may require specific ABC permits. Ensure your employees have the proper licensing.

Staying informed about all aspects of the ABC regulations and implementing proper training procedures for your staff is vital to avoiding violations and maintaining a compliant business.

By following these guidelines and staying informed about ABC regulations, you can ensure your business operates responsibly and maintains a good standing with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.