Most frequently asked LEGAL questions
- 1. Q: What is the minimum age to sell/serve alcoholic liquor and can minors enter a bar?
- 2. Q: What signage is required for posting in my business and where can I order these signs?
- 3. Q: What forms of identification are acceptable for purchasing alcoholic beverages or tobacco products?
- 4. Q: Can I sell alcoholic liquor at my family gathering, wedding, or company picnic?
- 5. Q: Am I allowed to sell alcohol at my charity event?
- 6. Q: Are “Happy Hours” allowed in Illinois?
- 7. Q: Where can I find information on samplings and tastings?
- 8. Q: Can I deliver a liquor sale to a purchaser’s home?
- 9. Q: Can a distributor charge Invoice Service Charges (for example fuel surcharges) to a retailer?
- 10. Q: How much wine and spirits must a retailer purchase (in dollars) before a distributor must deliver within a 2 weeks of the order?
- 11. Q: What are the updated Dram Shop legal liability limits?
- 12. Q: Can I file a Advisory Opinion Request Form online?
1. Q: What is the minimum age to sell/serve alcoholic liquor and can minors enter a bar?
A: Both answers are subject to local jurisdictional ordinances, but, at a minimum, the seller/server must be at least 18 years of age. A minor is not allowed to sell/serve alcoholic liquor. Illinois Liquor Control Commission Rules & Regulations (Section 100.10) define a "minor" as a person under 18 years of age (per an Illinois Attorney General opinion in 1973). However, the Illinois Liquor Control Act (235 ILCS 5/6-16, 235 ILCS 5/6-16.2, and ILCS 5/4-1) allows local jurisdictional control over this matter as well as the age allowed to enter a bar/tavern (restaurants that serve alcohol are exempt from this law). In Chicago, for example, you must be 21 to sell/serve alcohol and those under 21 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to enter a bar/tavern. Some other local jurisdictions allow all ages to enter, regardless of whether they are with a parent or legal guardian. Other municipalities have ordinances specifying different ages for the selling, serving, pouring, drawing, and/or opening of alcoholic beverages. You will need to review the various ordinances for most local jurisdictions as well. One state law that cannot be changed, however, is the legal drinking age of 21.
2. Q: What signage is required for posting in my business and where can I order these signs?
A: All liquor retailers must post a government warning sign (alerting patrons to the dangers of drinking while pregnant) along with their liquor license and Illinois Business Tax (IBT) certificate. All signage must be framed and posted in a conspicuous place within the premises, such as behind the bar or at the point-of-sale. Other signage (including a “Proof of Age” sign and local liquor license) may also be required by your local jurisdictional authority. Please visit our Alcohol Retailer Licensee Informational Packet page to order the above mentioned signage. Additionally, some on-premise liquor retailers are required to prohibit firearms in their establishment (visit the Illinois State Police's Concealed Carry Signage Requirements web page) and post a human trafficking notice (visit the Illinois Dept. of Human Services' Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act web page).
3. Q: What forms of identification are acceptable for purchasing alcoholic beverages or tobacco products?
A: Acceptable ID’s include the following: A valid current driver’s license or photo ID card issued by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office or any other State; a valid Armed Forces ID; and a valid U.S. passport or foreign passport (with U.S. travel visa) containing the holder’s photograph. Please note: If a license holder chooses to request identification, then they have the authority to refuse service if the written evidence of identification is not a U.S.-affiliated ID. Nevertheless, it is ultimately the license holder's choice on what they will accept. Of course, if they accept an ID that is not U.S.-affiliated, then they have no defense if the person turns out to be under 21.
4. Q: Can I sell alcoholic liquor at my family gathering, wedding, or company picnic?
A: No, a liquor license is ALWAYS required when selling alcoholic beverages. Please note, a private function is an event where attendance is by invitation only, the host controls access to the premises, and alcoholic beverages are provided to invited guests at NO CHARGE. In other words, a wedding would qualify under this exception as long as the liquor being served is not sold to the wedding guests.
5. Q: Am I allowed to sell alcohol at my charity event?
A: If the gathering is a non-profit or a fundraising event, liquor sales are allowed when a Special Event Liquor License is procured.
6. Q: Are “Happy Hours” allowed in Illinois?
A: Yes. Please review the Happy Hour FAQs for details on what is allowed under the law.
7. Q: Where can I find information on samplings and tastings?
8. Q: Can I deliver a liquor sale to a purchaser’s home?
A: If you have an off-premise or a combined (on/off premise) liquor license, you can offer liquor delivery sales through your business. However, please note the following: Your local jurisdiction must allow this activity, you must have safeguards in place to ensure those accepting the product are over the age of 21 years, and you cannot accept payment or orders at the delivery location.
9. Q: Can a distributor charge Invoice Service Charges (for example fuel surcharges) to a retailer?
A: Yes. A distributor can charge Invoice Service Charges. The distributor and retailer should note the following:
- These costs are related to the method of payment as proscribed in Section 100.90(l) of the rules.
- These charges are considered alcohol charges which are subject to the "Cash Beer Law" or which may subject a retailer to being placed on the delinquency list if not paid within 30 days.
- Records of these charges must be maintained pursuant to the record keeping requirements as found in Section 100.130 of the rules.
- A distributor may charge reasonable service charges to retailers.
- These services charges must be uniformly applied to all retailers.
- The distributor must maintain a defined policy as to how it defines similarly situated retailers.
- The distributor must also maintain a schedule of pricing for these additional charges.
- In the event that the distributor does not maintain a defined policy, then it must apply the charge to all retailers or it cannot apply the charge to any retailers.
- A distributor may allow a retailer up to 30 days from the date of the charge with which to pay the Invoice Service Charge.
- If the distributor does not uniformly apply these charges, then in situations in which the charge is not applied or appropriately collected, the retailer may have committed a violation of Section 6-5 of the Liquor Control Act and the distributor may have committed a violation of Section 6-6 of the Liquor Control Act. Upon being made aware of the violation, the ILCC may issue a citation for the violation.
10. Q: How much wine and spirits must a retailer purchase (in dollars) before a distributor must deliver within a 2 weeks of the order?
- $331.22 (Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage, and Will counties)
- $85.11 (all other Illinois counties)
(Last updated: 2022)
11. Q: What are the updated Dram Shop legal liability limits?
A: Dram Shop liability limits are set by Section 6-21 of the Liquor Control Act and are adjusted annually for inflation by the Illinois Comptroller.
2022 Dram Shop Liability Limits
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI-U increased by 7.04% during the preceding calendar year. Based upon the previous determinations, the liability limits are adjusted as follows:
For final judgments or settlements awarded on or after January 20, 2022 for causes of action involving persons injured, killed, or incurring property damage, the judgment or recovery under the Liquor Control Act of 1934 for injury to the person or property of any person shall not exceed $77,787.30 for each person incurring damages; and
For final judgments or settlements awarded on or after January 20, 2022 for causes of action under the Liquor Control Act of 1934 for either loss of means of support or loss of society resulting from the death or injury of any person, the recovery shall not exceed $95,073.37.
12. Q: Can I file a Advisory Opinion Request Form online?
A: Yes, the form can be found here.
For more legal-related information and resources, please visit the Legal Division section of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission website.