General Questions


GENERAL QUESTIONS

  1. What does an agent for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission do?

    Agents are commissioned peace officers. Agents enforce the provisions of the Alcoholic Beverage Code that regulates every phase of the business of manufacturing, importing, exporting, transporting, storing, selling, advertising, labeling, distributing, state taxation of alcoholic beverages, and the possession of alcoholic beverages for the purpose of sale or otherwise. As commissioned peace officers they enforce all state laws. [Section 5.31]

  2. Who qualifies for a retail license or permit?

    A person must be 21 years or older, of good moral character, a law abiding citizen, and legally reside in the United States. [Sections 11.46 and 61.42]

  3. May a license or permit be used by or transferred to another person?

    No. If the ownership of a business changes hands, the new owner must apply for their own license or permit. The license or permit cannot be transferred to the new owner.

  4. May a license or permit be moved from one location to a new location?

    Yes, but only upon approval of the TABC after the holder submits an application requesting such a change. A license to sell beer may only be transferred to a location within the county in which it was originally issued. A permit to sell liquor may be transferred to another location in Texas.

  5. After a license or permit is issued, does the TABC have the authority to cancel or suspend the license or permit?

    Yes, for any violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Code after a hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings and possible appeal. [Sections 5.35, 11.61 and 61.71]

  6. How long does it usually take to obtain a permit to sell alcoholic beverages?

    The approximate time to obtain a permit is 45-60 days. This time frame can vary dependent on the type of license applied for and the certification required by the local governing authorities in the city and county of the proposed location. It can take longer than 60 days, so it is important begin the application process as early as possible.

    For assistance with the licensing process, please contact your local TABC office. They can walk you through the process, provide you with the appropriate forms, and answer any questions you might have. For contact information, visit the map on our website.

  7. How far away does a location that sells alcohol need to be from a church or school? How is that distance measured?

    The state statute permits city councils or county commissioners courts to adopt a local ordinance prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a public or private school, church and/or public hospital. The distance from a school can be increased to 1000 feet under certain circumstances. [Section 109.33]

    Generally, based on 109.33(b), distances from schools are measured in a straight line from property line to property line and in a direct line across intersections.

    The law requires that the distance from a church or hospital be measured from front door of the proposed establishment to the street front. If on the same side of the street, measurement continues along the along street frontage to a point perpendicular to the front door of the church or hospital, and then from the street frontage to the front door of the church or hospital. If a street has to be crossed, then measurement continues from the street front point that is perpendicular to the front door of the the establishment to the nearest intersection, across that intersection in a straight line and then back along the street frontage to a point perpendicular to the front door of the church or hospital and then from that point to the church or hospital's front door.

    Cities and counties can also adopt ordinances requiring a 300-foot distance between certain types of permits and day-care centers or child-care facilities, [Section 109.331]

    Cities and counties are not required to have these ordinances (the statute is merely permissive) and are free to grant variances as they see fit.

  8. When a person pays a fine for a criminal citation, where do the funds go?

    TABC does not financially benefit from issuing criminal citations. Citations issued by TABC agents are essentially the same as speeding tickets. They are handled in municipal or JP court, and the local officials collect the fines. As with all tickets, a small portion is remitted to the State of Texas. However, it is not allocated to the TABC’s budget.

  9. Some restaurants I visit allow me to bring my own bottle of wine, while others say it is against the law. Which is it? And is it legal for the bar or restaurant to charge me a fee to bring my own alcoholic beverages into the establishment?

    It is ILLEGAL to take any alcoholic beverage into a restaurant/bar that has a private club permit or a mixed beverage permit (distilled spirits in addition to beer/wine). You can't leave with an alcoholic beverage, unless it is a malt beverage produced by a brewpub, or you are leaving with a bottle of wine you bought with a meal and did not finish. Section 28.10 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code says, "A mixed beverage permittee may not permit any person to take any alcoholic beverage purchased on the licensed premises from the premises where sold, except that a person who orders wine with food and has a portion of the open container remaining may remove the open container of wine from the premises."

    It is LEGAL to take alcoholic beverages into or out of a restaurant/bar that has a beer/wine permit (no distilled spirits), or an establishment that does not have a permit to sell alcohol. However, the business may have their own rules against it. If the business allows you to bring your own alcoholic beverages onto their premises, it is legal for them to charge you a fee. It is often referred to as a "corkage fee," especially when it refers to a bottle of wine brought into a restaurant. Some bars also sell "set ups" which refers to cups of ice or soda that the customer buys and mixes with their own distilled spirits.

  10. I have seen two types of signs posted in retail establishments regarding concealed weapons. What is the difference between the two?

    All alcoholic beverage retailers must post one of two firearms signs. Please visit the Sign Requirements web page for additional information.

  11. What signs are required to be posted at an off-premises establishment such as a convenience store or grocery store?

    Please visit the Sign Requirements web page to see which signs are required to be posted.

    The signs are available for download and hard copies are available at the local TABC District Offices.

  12. What signs are required to be posted at an on-premises establishment such as a bar or restaurant?

    Please visit the Sign Requirements web page to see which signs are required to be posted.

    The signs are available for download and hard copies are available at the local TABC District Offices.

  13. Can an establishment give away free alcoholic beverages to customers without having a permit?

    It is legal to provide free alcoholic beverages without a permit. However, to be truly “free” it must be available to any adult who walks in the door and requests it. If it is only available to paying customers, the assumption is that the cost of the alcohol is included in the price of the service. In this case, the retailer would be “selling” the wine, and a permit would be required. When the establishment provides the alcoholic beverage, there cannot be any expectation of receiving money. The establishment cannot ask for a “donation” or “tip.” If the alcoholic beverage will only be available to paying guests, then the establishment will need a permit.

  14. What can be searched without a warrant?

    A peace officer may inspect or conduct an inspection of the premises covered by a license or permit at any time without a search warrant for the purpose of performing any duty imposed by the Code.

    The premises include all of the grounds and related buildings, vehicles and appurtenances, as well as the adjacent premises under the control of the permittee or licensee when covered by permit or license by the TABC.

    In some instances specific parts of the premises may be diagramed off the licensed premises and not subject to search without a warrant. A copy of the TABC approved diagram is required to be publicly posted with the license or permit if a specific part of the premises has been diagrammed off the licensed premises. If living quarters are located on the premises and have not been diagramed off the licensed premises, it is suggested that the officer obtain voluntary consent to search or secure a search warrant before searching this area.


AGE REQUIREMENTS

  1. When may a minor legally possess an alcoholic beverage?

    While in the course and scope of employment as an employee of a licensee or permittee. Also, if the minor is in the visible presence of an adult parent, guardian, or spouse or other adult to whom he has been committed by a court and if the minor is under the immediate supervision of a commissioned peace officer engaged in enforcing the provisions of this Code. [Section 106.05]

  2. Is a person held responsible if he or his employee with criminal negligence sells or makes available an alcoholic beverage to a minor?

    Any person (unless he or she is the minor's parent, legal guardian or adult spouse) who makes an alcoholic beverage available to a minor, is in violation of the law and is subject to criminal penalties. [Chapter 106]

    However, a defense to prosecution exists if the minor falsely represents himself to be 21 years of age or older by displaying an apparently valid Texas Driver's License or Department of Public Safety identification card containing a physical description consistent with his appearance.

  3. It is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages to someone unless they show a Texas driver's license?

    The law does not require that a person over 21 provide any identification to purchase alcohol in Texas. But since store clerks, waitresses, and bartenders can be held criminally liable for selling to a minor, they often require a government-issued photo ID (military, state or federal), to prove that the person really is 21.

    Section 106.03 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code states that a person who sells a minor an alcoholic beverage does not commit an offense if the minor falsely represents himself to be 21 years old or older by displaying an apparently valid proof of identification that contains a physical description and photograph consistent with the minor's appearance, purports to establish that the minor is 21 years of age or older, and was issued by a governmental agency.

    The proof of identification could be a driver's license or identification card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a United States passport, a military identification card, or any other photo ID issued by a state or the federal government.

    So a store, bar or restaurant can sell alcohol to a person with an out-of-state driver's license, military ID, or passport – or with no ID at all. What's acceptable in any establishment is a matter of that establishment's private business policies.

  4. May a minor enter the premises where a license or permit is issued?

    Generally yes, if he does not possess or consume an alcoholic beverage. A minor may not enter the premises of a package store unless accompanied by an adult parent, spouse or guardian. A licensee or permittee may have a “house rule” that minors may not enter their licensed premises.

  5. How old does a person need to be to become TABC certified and sell or serve alcoholic beverages?

    There is no minimum age for attending a server training course. Depending on the type of permit held by the establishment, there may or may not be age limits for serving/selling alcohol. The limits are as follows:

    • Off-Premises License or Permit (e.g. most grocery or convenience stores) - no age restriction on employees
    • On-Premises License or Permit (e.g. bar or restaurant) - must be 18 or over to serve/sell
    • Package Store (liquor store) - employees must be 21 or over
    • Wine Only Package Store (store that sells wine for off-premise consumption containing a higher alcohol content than your typical grocery store) – employees must be 16 or over.

HOURS OF SALE AND CONSUMPTION

  1. What are the legal hours of sale/service of alcoholic beverages?

    ON-PREMISE LICENSE OR PERMIT (E.G. BAR OR RESTAURANT)

    • Monday-Friday: 7am-midnight
    • Saturday: 7am-1am (Sunday morning)
    • Sunday: Noon to midnight. (10am-noon only in conjunction with the service of food)
    • If the establishment is in a city or county legal for late hours, and they have a late hours permit, they can sell alcohol for on-premise consumption until 2am any night of the week.

    OFF-PREMISE BEER/WINE LICENSE OR PERMIT (E.G. CONVENIENCE STORE OR GROCERY STORE)

    • Monday-Friday: 7am-midnight
    • Saturday: 7am-1am (Sunday morning)
    • Sunday: noon to midnight
    • A wine only package store that holds a beer license may not sell wine containing more than 17 percent alcohol by volume on a Sunday or after 10pm on any day.
    • A wine only package store that does NOT hold a beer license must have the same hours of sale as a package store.

    PACKAGE STORE / LIQUOR STORE

    • Monday-Saturday: 10am-9pm
    • Closed on Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day.
    • If Christmas Day or New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, closed the following Monday.

    SPORTS VENUE

    “Sports venue” means a public entertainment facility property, as defined by Section 108.73, that is primarily designed and used for live sporting events. In addition to any other period during which the sale of alcohol is authorized, a licensed or permitted premises located in a sports venue may sell alcoholic beverages between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.

    FESTIVAL, FAIR, OR CONCERT

    In addition to any other period during which the sale of alcohol is authorized, a licensed or permitted premises located at a festival, fair, or concert may sell alcoholic beverages between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.

    WINERY

    • Monday-Saturday: 8am-midnight
    • Sunday: 10am to midnight

  2. What are the legal hours of public consumption of alcoholic beverages?

    In an extended hours area, a person may not consume or possess with intent to consume an alcoholic beverage in a public place:

    • Monday-Saturday: before 7am or after 2:15am
    • Sunday: before noon or after 2:15am
    • Exception: Consumption is legal between 10am and noon on Sunday:
      • At an on-premise establishment when it is sold along with the service of food to a customer;
      • At a winery, fair, festival, concert, or sports venue.

    “Extended hours area” means an area subject to the extended hours of sale provided in Section 105.03 or 105.05 of this code.

    In a standard hours area, a person may not consume or possess with intent to consume an alcoholic beverage in a public place:

    • Monday-Friday: before 7am or after 12:15am
    • Saturday: before 7am or after 1:15am
    • Sunday: before noon or after 12:15am
    • Exception: Consumption is legal between 10am and noon on Sunday:
      • At an on-premise establishment when it is sold along with the service of food to a customer;
      • At a winery, fair, festival, concert, or sports venue.

    “Standard hours area” means an area which is not an extended hours area.

  3. When can a distributor make beer deliveries to a retailer?

    Effective May 5, 2009, a general, local, or branch distributor's license holder may sell, offer for sale, or deliver beer at any time EXCEPT between 1am and noon on Sunday. [Prior to May 5, 2009, deliveries could only be made during the hours of sale of beer per 105.05(b), and beginning at 5am on any day except Sunday. Exception: In counties with a population of 1.8 million or more (or an adjacent county), distributors could deliver beginning at 4am any day except Sunday.]

  4. When can a wholesaler or local distributor's permit holder make liquor deliveries to a retailer (ale/malt liquor, wine, spirits)?

    Effective May 5, 2009, the holder of a wholesaler's permit may sell, offer for sale, or deliver liquor at any time EXCEPT on Sunday and Christmas Day. [Prior to May 5, 2009, deliveries could only be made from 5am to 9pm on any day except on Sunday and Christmas Day.]

    A local distributor's permit holder may sell, offer for sale, or deliver liquor to a retailer between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. on any day EXCEPT on Sunday, Christmas Day or any day on which a package store permittee is prohibited from selling liquor.

  5. Are there additional hours of operation for distributors and wholesalers?

    Rule 45.109(d) expands the statute by allowing distributors and wholesalers of malt beverages and wine to restock, rotate, affix prices, and reset or rearrange alcoholic beverages they sell from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Sunday.

  6. How does the time changes for Day Light Savings Time affect the hours of sale and consumption?

    In the fall when the time changes at 2:00 a.m., licensees and permittees may sell for an additional hour because the legal time is 1:00 a.m., instead of 2:00 a.m., at that point in time. In the spring, when Day Light Savings Time takes place, the legal time is 3:00 a.m. when the time changes. Technically, no one should be publicly consuming or selling alcoholic beverages at that time. TABC agents have traditionally given patrons the 15 minutes they have under the extended hours definition to consume the remainder of the drinks legally purchased before 2:00 a.m.

  7. Is it legal to sell alcoholic beverages on an election day?

    Yes. There are no laws against selling alcohol on election day.


IMPORTATION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES FOR RESALE

  1. How would I go about importing beer into Texas for resale?

    The holder of a Manufacturer’s or Distributor’s License who also holds an Importer’s License can purchase beer from the holder of a Nonresident Manufacturer’s Permit, and then sell the beer to retailers and distributors in Texas. Beer is defined as a malt beverage containing 1/2 of 1% or more alcohol by volume and not more than 4% of alcohol by weight.

    The manufacturer of the beer being shipped into this state will need to hold a Nonresident Manufacturer's License. The holder of a Nonresident Manufacturer's License may transport beer into Texas by common carrier holding a Carrier's Permit or in motor vehicles owned or leased by the Nonresident Manufacturer. This beer may only be shipped and sold to holders of an Importer's License.

  2. How would I go about importing wine into Texas for resale?

    The holder of a Wholesaler's Permit, Wine Bottler’s Permit, or Winery Permit (with some restrictions), can purchase wine from the holder of a Nonresident Seller's Permit outside of Texas, and then sell the wine to retailers and wholesalers inside Texas.

    A winery outside of Texas or the Primary American Source of Supply will need to hold a Nonresident Seller's Permit. This permit is required of all entities that export alcoholic beverages containing alcohol in excess of 4% by weight into the State of Texas. The holder of a Nonresident Seller's permit must ship their products by a common carrier that holds a Carrier's Permit and may only sell to the following permit holders in Texas: Wine Bottler, Winery, Wholesaler, Local Class B Wholesaler and General Class B Wholesaler.


PUBLIC INTOXICATION

  1. What is the law regarding public intoxication?

    Section 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code states: “A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.” Public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.

  2. Is a peace officer required to offer a breath or blood test to individuals before he/she cites them for public intoxication?

    No. They may offer a portable breath test, but breath or blood samples are not required for a public intoxication citation.

  3. What is the law regarding serving alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person?

    Selling an alcoholic beverage with criminal negligence to an intoxicated person is a violation of Section 101.63 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code. It is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $100 and $500 and/or up to a year in jail.

  4. If a bar or restaurant is privately owned, does that make it a private place?

    No. Any location permitted to sell or serve alcoholic beverages in Texas is defined as a public place. Section 1.07 of the Texas Penal Code states: “’Public place’ means any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops.” Furthermore, TABC agents are obligated to regularly inspect bars and restaurants.


BRING-YOUR-OWN-BEVERAGE (BYOB)

  1. Can our guests bring their own alcoholic beverages into our establishment, or to our event, if we don't hold a TABC permit?

    There are no statewide bring-your-own-beverage (BYOB) laws in Texas. (Check with your city or county for relevant local ordinances.) There is a state law that says it's illegal to bring alcoholic beverages onto the premises of the holder of a mixed beverage permit or private club permit. Otherwise, nothing in state law prohibits a guest from bringing their own alcoholic beverages onto the premises of a bar or restaurant or other establishment that is licensed to sell wine or beer, or into an establishment that is not licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

  2. Can our guests bring their own alcoholic beverages into our establishment while we are applying for a TABC permit?

    You may allow customers to bring their own alcoholic beverages onto your premises while you are in the process of applying for a TABC permit. If you are obtaining a Wine and Beer Retailer's Permit, you can continue to allow customers to bring their own alcoholic beverages, even after you obtain a TABC permit. Some establishments that sell only wine and beer allow customers to bring in distilled spirits and sell "set-ups." This would not be legal with a Private Club or Mixed Beverage Permit.

    It is important to avoid any legal violations taking place on the premises before and after obtaining a TABC permit. If the applicant becomes known for illegal activity on the premises, it will interfere with the permitting process with TABC.

  3. What alcohol-related state laws apply to a Bring-Your-Own-Beverage or BYOB location or event?

    • Minors Possessing or Consuming Alcohol - The punishment for making alcoholic beverages available to a minor is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000, confinement in jail for up to a year, or both. Additionally, the violator will have his or her driver's license automatically suspended for 180 days upon conviction.

      Persons 21 or older (other than the parent or guardian) can be held liable for damages caused by intoxication of a minor under 18 if the adult knowingly provided alcoholic beverages to a minor or knowingly allowed the minor to be served or provided alcoholic beverages on the premises owned or leased by the adult.

    • Legal Hours of Public Consumption - The legal hours of public consumption of alcoholic beverages still apply to BYOB establishments or special events held in a public place. Even if the location does not hold a TABC permit, the guests can't drink alcoholic beverages on the premises all night long.

      Legal hours of public consumption begin a 7am Monday through Saturday, and begin at noon on Sunday. Legal hours of public consumption end at 2:15am if the area is legal for extended hours. Otherwise, legal hours of public consumption end at 12:15am Sunday night through Friday night, and 1:15am Saturday night.

    • Public Intoxication - Chapter 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code states: "A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another."

  4. What is the definition of a Public Place?

    Chapter 1.07(40) of the Penal Code defines a public place as "any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities and shops." More to the point, Chapter 47.01(8) specifically excludes restaurants, taverns, and nightclubs from being private places.


SELLING MARGARITAS OR DAIQUIRIS TO GO

  1. I am interested in opening a margarita store, where customers could come in and purchase a margarita in a Styrofoam "to-go" cup. How would the "Open container law" affect this? Would I be able to sell the alcoholic beverage and place a tape across the top of the Styrofoam container lid?

    OR

  2. I would like to open a New Orleans style frozen daiquiri store. It would be on-premise consumption and take-out. Is this something I can do? Can I sell a frozen daiquiri in a 'sealed' container at a package store? Are there specific rules that constitute a 'sealed' container for off-premise consumption?

    There is not a permit that will allow a person to mix drinks like daiquiris or margaritas using distilled spirits and sell them for off-premises consumption or take-out or "to-go."

    If you obtain a mixed beverage permit, you will be able to sell margaritas or daiquiris that are made with tequila or rum (or any drink that contains distilled spirits), but you will only be able to sell them for on-premises consumption. You will not be able to sell alcoholic beverages "to go."

    If you obtain a package store permit, you will be able to sell distilled spirits "to go" but you will not be able to open the packages and mix drinks on the premises. You will not be able to sell mixed drinks for take-out or "to go."

    If you obtain a wine and beer retailer's off-premise permit, you will be able to sell wine and beer "to go" but you will not be able to open the packages and mix drinks on the premises. You will not be able to sell wine-based margaritas or daiquiris for take-out or "to go."

    If you obtain a wine and beer retailer's permit, you will be able to sell margaritas or daiquiris that are made with wine or beer, and you can sell them for consumption on or off the premises. This is the only legal way anyone can sell margaritas or daiquiris for take-out or "to go." The drinks cannot be made with tequila or rum or any distilled spirit.

    The drinks do not have to be in sealed containers to be taken out of the establishment. However, the container does need to be sealed if the customer takes it into their car. A person cannot possess an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. Below is the section of the Penal Code addressing open containers in motor vehicles.

    If you decide to go with this model, there is no TABC-definition of sealed container. Section 49.031 of the Penal Code says "Open container" means a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed.

    If you pursue this, you should contact your local law enforcement agency and/or district attorney's office to find out whether your intended container would meet their definition of "open container." Local law enforcement and the district attorney's office would determine whether to pursue charges against drivers who are leaving your store with one of your drinks. From the Penal Code: § 49.031. POSSESSION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE IN MOTOR VEHICLE.
      (a)   In this section:
         (1)     "Open container" means a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed.
         (2)     "Passenger area of a motor vehicle" means the area of a motor vehicle designed for the seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle. The term does not include:
                  (A)   a glove compartment or similar storage container that is locked;
                  (B)   the trunk of a vehicle; or
                  (C)   the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle does not have a trunk.
         (3)     "Public highway" means the entire width between and immediately adjacent to the boundary lines of any public road, street, highway, interstate, or other publicly maintained way if any part is open for public use for the purpose of motor vehicle travel. The term includes the right-of-way of a public highway.
      (b)   A person commits an offense if the person knowingly possesses an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. Possession by a person of one or more open containers in a single criminal episode is a single offense.
      (c)   It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) that at the time of the offense the defendant was a passenger in:
         (1)     the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, including a bus, taxicab, or limousine; or
         (2)     the living quarters of a motorized house coach or motorized house trailer, including a self-contained camper, a motor home, or a recreational vehicle.
      (d)   An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
      (e)   A peace officer charging a person with an offense under this section, instead of taking the person before a magistrate, shall issue to the person a written citation and notice to appear that contains the time and place the person must appear before a magistrate, the name and address of the person charged, and the offense charged. If the person makes a written promise to appear before the magistrate by signing in duplicate the citation and notice to appear issued by the officer, the officer shall release the person.