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Cheers Responsibly! Common Misconceptions Under North Carolina ABC Law

Cheers Responsibly! Common Misconceptions Under North Carolina ABC Law
Cheers Responsibly! Common Misconceptions Under North Carolina ABC Law

One of the biggest drinking holidays, St. Patrick’s Day, is a profitable time for businesses that sell alcoholic beverages. While most owners will likely want to offer some sort of drink specials to celebrate the holiday, they must be careful to ensure that any specials offered to patrons comply with the notoriously restrictive Alcohol Beverage Control law, (commonly called ABC laws) of North Carolina. This post will address some of the common misconceptions when it comes to specials on alcoholic beverage sales.

“Happy Hour” Isn’t Really An Hour

Pursuant to North Carolina law, businesses selling, or giving away, alcoholic beverages at a reduced price may not do so for any period of time less than one full day. This means that alcoholic beverages being offered at a discounted price must be offered at that price for the entire day, not simply for a few hours. In an effort to reduce the State’s drunk driving rates, North Carolina is one of only eight states to prohibit happy hours. However, like with everything, there are some slight exceptions to this general rule. To err on the side of caution, if you are thinking about offering St. Patrick’s Day drink specials this year, plan to do so for the entire day.

All Mimosas Have a Bottom

Some of us are familiar with the phrase “bottomless mimosas”; however, the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has made sure the phrase remains an abstract concept by ultimately prohibiting the concept. Specifically, business owners may not do the following: (1) sell more than one drink to a customer for a single price; (2) determine a single price based upon the required purchase of more than one drink; or (3) give more than one drink at a time to a customer for their consumption. 14B NCAC 15B .0223. Therefore, bottomless mimosas, or really any alcoholic beverages being characterized as “bottomless,” are prohibited because a patron would be paying one price for multiple beverages.

Pre-Mixed Beverages Are Permitted IF…

St. Patrick’s Day, like many other holidays, is a great opportunity for businesses in the alcoholic beverage industry to offer pre-mixed beverages to its patrons. Pre-mixed beverages are just what they seem like, alcoholic beverages that have been pre-mixed by the business prior to them being ordered by patrons. Under North Carolina law, these types of drinks are permitted as long as the business owner has been issued the proper permits. 14B NCAC 15B .0507. Most notably, the business will need a mixed beverages permit, where one requirement is the submission and approval of any recipes the business intends to use.

As you can see, the North Carolina ABC Commission tightly regulates the manner in which alcoholic beverages are sold. Violation of ABC Laws may result in civil or criminal penalties, fines, and even the suspension or loss of one’s license.

Dye Culik PC is a Charlotte, North Carolina business law firm handling ABC Law-related issues for business owners throughout the state. If your establishment has questions or concerns about compliance with ABC Laws, contact us to see how we can help you navigate this complex statutory and regulatory environment.


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