If I Have DUI Can I Obtain a Liquor License?

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A party who has a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in their past may be able to get a liquor license, but he will face challenges in the application process. The challenges will be more substantial if the DUI was charged as a felony or there were aggravating circumstances, such as excessive speeding. A party who has a DUI should consider having a business partner with a clean record apply for the license in his place.

What Factors Will Be Considered?

A party who is applying for a liquor license may have to apply only to the state alcohol control board or to the state board and the city or county board, as well. She should check the rules for her area when beginning the application process. Both state and local agencies may review an applicant’s criminal history as part of the process when considering an application for a liquor license.

Agencies consider many factors, including the nature of the applicant’s offense, the number of convictions, how long ago the DUI occurred, whether the DUI was charged as a misdemeanor or felony, whether the applicant is on probation or parole, whether the applicant was honest about disclosing the conviction and whether the applicant has completed substance abuse rehabilitation.

In some states, like Oregon, a party can call and talk to a state license investigator to ask questions about whether her DUI will affect the application. The license investigator's answer may not be what the state finally decides – it is only the investigator’s best guess.

What Does the Application Ask?

The application for a liquor license differs between states and localities. Many state applications, including those of California and Maine, ask whether a party has been convicted of any violation of the law. California also asks whether a party has ever forfeited bail, been fined or been placed on probation for a violation of the law.

California also asks whether a party is actively being prosecuted for a criminal offense. California requires that a sealed or expunged offense be disclosed, unless a court has issued an order sealing a record for a person under 18 years old.

Oregon asks whether a party has been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years in Oregon or in another state. It also asks whether a party has been in a drug or alcohol diversion program in Oregon or in another state. A diversion program is a court- or government agency-required program that an individual must complete in lieu of being convicted of a drug or alcohol-related offense.

Do DUIs From Other States Count?

This depends on the state’s alcohol control board’s rules. A party should consult an attorney or a consultant experienced with liquor license applications to determine what information to provide state and local agencies. The party should err in favor of being honest.

In some states, such as Maine, a false statement on an application for a liquor license is punishable by law. In Oregon, the Liquor License Control Commission provides that an issue regarding criminal history becomes more serious if a party makes a false statement or does not fully disclose his history.

Police Will See the Application

Typically, a city or county considering a party’s application for a liquor license will send a copy of the application to the local police department or sheriff’s department, and the district attorney’s office. If a party has a serious criminal record or has not been honest about her criminal history, the law enforcement agency or district attorney’s office might file a protest. They might also request the licensing agencies to impose restrictions on the party’s business.