AGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
Department of Liquor Licenses and Control
The Department was created in 1939. Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§4-101 et seq. Administrative rules are found at A.A.C. R19-1-191 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 licensed 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 two divisions:
- Licensing and Administration Division
- The Licensing unit issues liquor licenses to qualified applicants and assists licensees. It ensures that records are safe, legible and readily accessible to the Department's archives, online services, and public records requests. The licensing unit also processes payments, transfers records, and creates online forms and instructions.
- The Administration unit handles budget and finance, procurement, information technology, communications, special projects, human resources, Liquor Board administration, and policy research.
- Investigation Division
- The Investigation Division is responsible for ensuring that licensees comply with the statutes and administrative rules. The division includes the Investigations, Compliance, Audit, Industry Trade Practice, and Prevention units. The Division:
- Investigates complaints received from the public and law enforcement;
- Completes background investigations of liquor license applicants;
- Conducts routine inspections of licensed businesses;
- Administers the Covert Underage Buyer (CUB) programs, monitors, and educates licensees regarding fake IDs;
- Tracks local law enforcement reports, industry trade practices, and other liquor-related law enforcement;
- Monitors and performs audits of licensed establishments;
- Collaborates with law enforcement and community members;
- Develops and implements enforcement plans for large scale public events;
- Educates students about the legal, physical, and emotional outcomes of alcohol consumption by persons under the age of 21.
The State Liquor Board is independent from the Director and the Department. The Board hears license applications that have received a recommendation of disapproval from the local governing body, protests from the Director, public protests, and appeals from decisions of the Director. See A.R.S. 4-111 and 4-112 and A.A.C. R19-1-701 et seq.
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 2014, Chapter 253 was an omnibus liquor bill that modified provisions governing the Department and the liquor industry. It amended special licenses, defined craft distiller, farm winery, and microbrewery and adopted provisions governing their operations; modified provisions governing festivals and special event licenses; made changes to the quota license system; modified the 300-foot rule limiting retail liquor license eligibility; amended fees and pricing provisions; specified valid forms of identification; set out recordkeeping requirements of common carriers; and granted the Director added authority regarding license suspension, revocation, and renewals and to prevent out-of-state persons from engaging in various liquor-related businesses.
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 2014, Chapter 253
- Laws 2017, Chapter 168
- Laws 2019, Chapter 136
Arizona Department of Liquor website
Annual reports of the Arizona Department of Liquor
Monthly reports of the Arizona Department of Liquor
Related collection at Archives:
- Record Group 058 – Department of Liquor, 1933-1979