Liquor License Applications Get Unwanted Attention from Tennessee ABC

By - September 09, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Recently, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission stepped up scrutiny of routine disclosure of crimes on restaurant, hotel and bar liquor license applications. We are advising folks to be very careful with applications and personal questionnaires, making sure that all criminal convictions are disclosed.

For no apparent reason, the Beatles’ famous Abbey Road┬ásong comes to mind:

She came in through the bathroom window
Protected by a silver spoon
But now she sucks her thumb and wanders
By the banks of her own lagoon

A while back, the ABC announced that it was conducting random secondary checks of criminal convictions in ABC questionnaires. We joked that maybe one or two were being checked. ABC agents have full plates and probably more productive things to do. We never heard about a secondary ABC criminal check.

But Friday before last, ABC Assistant Director Ginna Winfree smashed our assumptions in a late afternoon call. It went sorta like this:

Will, why is your client not disclosing all his crimes in his ABC questionnaire? Why does the restaurant’s liquor application fail to disclose several crimes?

Within about 45 seconds, I was decidedly worried that the liquor license would be denied for the failure to disclose. Failure to disclose is a really bad thing.

When crimes are not disqualifying, like the 4 DUIs and misdemeanor theft charge in my application, always, always disclose the convictions. It may be embarrassing, but the ABC will issue the license.

But forget to disclose everything, and you could be in serious hot water.