The Department was created in 1939. Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§4-101 et seq.
The Department of Liquor Licenses and Control (DLLC) regulates the manufacture and sale of liquor in this state. DLLC consists of the State Liquor Board (Board) and the office of the Director of the Department.
The Board consists of seven members appointed by the Governor to three-year terms. The Board is authorized to grant and deny license applications, adopt rules and conduct hearings and appeals of administrative disciplinary proceedings of licensees.
The Director is appointed by the Governor and is responsible for maintaining a list of licensees, cooperating with law enforcement agencies regarding investigations of liquor law violations, establishing an investigations unit, taking evidence and issuing subpoenas, issuing cease and desist orders, inspecting licenses premises, confiscating wine falsely labeled as an Arizona wine, and setting standards for training courses related to handling spirituous liquor and liquor laws.
Each state has the primary authority to enact and enforce alcohol laws consistent with the desires and needs of its citizens. Arizona is, and has always been, a “license” state in which liquor licenses are issued to qualified individuals who wish to produce, distribute or sell liquor to the public. Other states are “control” states in which the state operates liquor warehouses and retail outlets.
According to the Department website, DLLC is organized into three divisions:
- The Administration Division, which provides daily departmental operations including budget and finance, compliance, liquor license auditing and personnel.
- The Licensing Division, which issues, transfers, renews and audits the various types of licenses.
- The Investigations Division, which ensures compliance with Arizona liquor laws by providing educational courses on fake IDs and liquor law to licensees, conducting routine liquor inspections at licensed locations, responding to complaints received by the public, and training law enforcement agencies statewide on the Covert Underage Buyer program and other liquor-related law enforcement. www.azliquor.gov/about
Arizona’s first liquor regulation was the 1864 Howell Code which assessed liquor taxes on vendors of wines and distilled spirits.
The Volstead Act of 1919 enacted national prohibition and eliminated the need for liquor regulation. Prohibition began in 1920 and lasted 13 years. Prohibition ended in December, 1933 when 36 states (a three-fourths majority) ratified the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution. Arizona voted to ratify the 21st Amendment in September, 1933. The Amendment also provided individual states the right to choose their own system to regulate alcoholic beverages.
In the spring of 1933, Arizona organized the Temperance Enforcement Commission and authorized the State Tax Commission to enforce liquor laws, issue licenses and collect fees and taxes. See Laws 1933, Chapter 76.
In 1939, responsibility to enforce laws relating to spirituous liquor, including licensing, regulation, manufacture and sale, shifted to the newly created Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. See Laws 1939, Chapter 64.
Laws 1982, Chapter 297 authorized domestic farm wineries to produce and sell Arizona wine. A wine labeled as an ‘Arizona wine’ must contain a minimum percentage of grapes grown in Arizona.
See Laws 1987, Chapter 264 authorized domestic microbreweries to operate in Arizona and sell their products. Certain limitations apply.
Laws 1988, Chapter 294 allowed a domestic farm winery to obtain a wine festival license and allowed sampling of Arizona wine and sale of products in original containers for consumption off the wine festival premises.
Laws 2017, Chapter 168 was an omnibus bill that among other changes, modified Board membership by increasing the number of members that may be from the same county from two to three; modified procedures relating to Department notification to a local governing body of an acquisition of control; revised license requirements for special events, craft distilleries, and tasting rooms; and authorized the Director to issue additional beer and wine bar licenses in each county annually, subject to specific requirements and limitations.
Laws 2019, Chapter 136 was an omnibus bill making various changes to liquor license and control statutes. Among other provisions, the measure authorized the use of a biometric identity verification device to determine a person’s age; allowed the Director to issue joint premises permits; and established an appeals process for contested cases based on revocation or suspension of a license due to unpaid taxes.
The measure also established a pilot program for liquor licensees at regional shopping centers. The program would allow patrons to consume spirituous liquor in a designated pedestrian area of the shopping center. The Director is authorized to prescribe an application process, as well as conditions and limits. The pilot program, including any related extension of premises granted by the Department, terminates January 1, 2023.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§4-101 et seq.
- Arizona Administrative Code §§R19-1-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1933, Chapter 76
- Laws 1939, Chapter 64
- Laws 1982, Chapter 297
- Laws 1987, Chapter 264
- Laws 1988, Chapter 294
- Laws 2017, Chapter 168
- Laws 2019, Chapter 136
Arizona Department of Liquor website
Related collection at Archives:
- Record Group 58 – Department of Liquor