5 Strange Restaurant Laws That Most Diners Aren’t Aware Of

While our legal system in the US is one to be respected, there are still a few strange laws that slip through the cracks. You may go your entire life without encountering a weird law, or you could be slapped with a penalty for an unknown violation.

Depending on where you live, your favorite restaurant could be affected by a wacky local law, like:

  1. Don’t get drunk in a bar. Although this seems like an oxymoron, Texas makes it legal for police officers to arrest a person anywhere for public intoxication, including in a restaurant or bar. Unfortunately, unethical cops can use this law to profile minorities to make undocumented immigrant arrests, defeating the true purpose of the law in the first place.
  2. Don’t take your lunch to go. In Riverside, California, you’re not allowed to carry your lunch down the street from 11 AM to 1 PM. For whatever reason, this law encourages busy workers to sit down and eat their lunches in a restaurant or else risk a penalty.
  3. Don’t take your wine with you. In many states, it’s now perfectly legal to re-cork a bottle of wine and take it with you if you can’t finish it. This helps to prevent the unfortunate offense of overindulging and drinking and driving. However, in Mississippi, re-corking isn’t permitted under any circumstance; wine must be finished or left at the table.
  4. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. In the state of Utah, it’s illegal to serve a restaurant patron a drink without them ordering food. Of course, Utah also deems it illegal to advertise drink specials in a restaurant or bar, making the practice of going out for a few cocktails very difficult indeed.
  5. Don’t eat without a security guard. Although eating in a restaurant may seem like an innocent enough task, a city council ordinance was proposed in Newark, New Jersey, to require restaurants that serve 15 or fewer people and stay open later than 9 PM to hire armed security guards. Fortunately, this strange proposal was overturned by the mayor.

 

While most of these bizarre dining laws probably won’t affect you the next time you eat at a restaurant, it helps to understand the ins and outs of local rulings to prevent a potential violation. Once you become comfortable with state laws in your area, you can rest easy when you dine out with family and friends.

 

What Bar Owners Need to Know About Liquor License Laws in Each State

As the owner of a bar, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest alcohol laws in the US, especially at state level. As of 1988, it is now illegal to purchase alcohol before the age of 21 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, there are some exceptions to the rule in US territories like the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico where the minimum age to buy alcohol is 18.

Why Your Bar Needs an Alcohol Beverage License

Operating a bar without a liquor license is a serious offense. An alcohol beverage license allows you to sell alcoholic beverages to individual customers within your premises. A liquor license will be issued by a governing body in a local municipality at the city or town level.

Before applying for a liquor license in your state, it helps to understand more about local requirements needed to legally sell alcohol in your establishment. From there, you can complete an application that will be submitted to the alcohol beverage control agency at the state level, including necessary payments made to the county and state.

In order to comply with county and state requirements to receive a liquor license, you may have to jump through hoops in the screening process with an on-site visit from an inspector, a preliminary interview, and/or a court hearing. In a state like Texas, you’ll be required to appear with a Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission staff member in front of a county judge.

Possible Penalties for a Liquor License Violation

If you are caught knowingly violating the restrictions of your liquor license in your state, you could lose your license altogether. In more minor cases, a liquor license in a bar may be temporarily suspended, costing you thousands of dollars in potential sales.

Some of the most common liquor license violations include:

  • On-premises noise violation that could affect a liquor license.
  • Premises violation, like not disposing of trash properly.
  • Guest violations, including loitering.
  • Employing or selling liquor to a minor.
  • Employee violations, including improper record-keeping.

Depending on the offense, penalties could vary. If a bar sells alcohol to a minor, a first offense could result in a one-day suspension of a license with up to a $2000 fine. A second offense within 12 months could result in a week-long suspension of a liquor license with up to a $3000 fine.

To protect the integrity of your business, it’s important to play by the rules. Better understanding liquor laws and restrictions in your local area will keep your doors open.