Alcohol Beverage, Scott Breen

Transfers of Liquor Licenses: A Quicker Process

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In December of 2013, a new Michigan law was enacted to provide a much quicker process to obtain a liquor license.  This law allows the issuance of “conditional” liquor licenses to bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and other retail establishments.  At the time of its enactment, it was somewhat uncertain whether this law would ever become effective.

First, it was not to take effect until May 22, 2014.  More importantly, however, the law would not take effect unless eight other bills were subsequently passed by the legislature and signed into law.  In late March, all eight of these bills were enacted into law.

The new law allows the conditional approval of transfers of ownership in an existing license at the same location (e.g. the transfer of a “Class C” license to the purchaser of a restaurant).  It also allows the conditional approval of a new license to sell beer and wine (but not spirits) at an off-premise location such as a grocery store or party store.  To obtain a conditional license, an applicant must submit an application and various business documents to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission will also consider the arrest, conviction, and previous violation history of the applicant and its owners/agents.  If everything is satisfactory, the license will be issued within 20 business days.

Therefore, beginning on May 22, 2014, a buyer of a business owning a liquor license or an applicant seeking an off-premise license to sell beer and wine may be able to begin operations much sooner than previously permitted.

Please contact our office if you are seeking the expedited transfer or issuance of a liquor license.  We may be able to assist.