New York Alcohol Laws

New York's Alcoholic Beverage Control Law governs a wide range of alcohol-related regulations and requirements, including everything from commerce to public safety. The state's alcohol laws are designed to protect residents and businesses while promoting growth and innovation.

Understanding New York alcohol laws for consumers, bartenders, servers and business owners is essential for anyone looking to live, work or do business in the state.

Alcohol Seller/Server FAQs

Is responsible alcohol server training mandatory in New York?

Many businesses in New York require alcohol servers to complete an Alcohol Training Awareness Program (ATAP) course, but it is not mandatory according to state law. This training is highly recommended for any alcohol seller or server because it helps prevent illegal sales and protect the business and employees from liability.

ATAP training is a mitigating factor in the case of any lawsuit liabilities, meaning that the proof of successful training can offer a limited affirmative defense to reduce charges or lessen sentences in the case of an alcohol law violation.

Does the New York State Liquor Authority approve online alcohol training courses?

Yes. Our on- and off-premise Alcohol Training Awareness Program courses are 100% online and have been approved to meet New York State Liquor Authority training requirements.

Do I need on-premise or off-premise ATAP certification?

The On-Premise course is for waiters, bartenders and other employees who serve alcohol that will be consumed on-site at establishments such as restaurants or bars. The Off-Premise course is for those selling alcohol for consumption off the premises, such as employees of liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores or gas stations.

How long will my ATAP certification be valid?

Your Alcohol Training Awareness Program certification is valid for three years from the date of graduation. You will need to retake the ATAP course every three years to maintain your certification.

What do I need to do when my Alcohol Awareness Training certification expires?

You must complete this course every three years to maintain your Alcohol Training Awareness Program certification. Before your current certification expires, you must retake the ATAP course to earn an updated certificate.

How old do employees need to be to sell or serve alcohol in New York

The general rule in New York is that any employee selling or handling alcoholic beverages must be at least 18. You do not need to be 21 or older to work as a bartender in the state.

Off-premises beer licensees (such as liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores) may employ people under 18 as cashiers or to stock or handle deliveries or containers if they are directly supervised and in the presence of a person 18 years old or older.

Can a minor in New York sell, serve or handle alcoholic beverages?

No, individuals under the age of 18 are prohibited from working in positions that involve alcohol handling, selling or serving.

What forms of identification do the NY State Liquor Authority consider acceptable?

Valid identification in New York includes:

  • New York State Driver's License
  • Driver's license from any other state or Canada
  • Identification issued by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (non-driver identification card)
  • Identification issued by the United States military
  • Passport issued by the United States government or any other country.

College identification cards, employee identification cards or any other form of ID not listed above can be accepted as a secondary means to verify identity. However, they cannot be accepted as primary proof of age.

Do I need to ask for identification from every patron who orders alcohol?

While you are not obligated to ask for ID from every patron, it is crucial to have a proper policy in place for ID checks. As a responsible alcohol server, you must ensure that you are not violating your legal obligation to avoid selling alcoholic beverages to individuals under the age of 21. This can help prevent the possibility of fines or other penalties.

How can I prevent illegal sales to intoxicated customers?

Because New York’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Law includes dram shop regulations, sellers and servers can be held responsible for damage caused by intoxicated or underaged customers.

To minimize your legal liability, it is important to avoid sales to customers who are visibly intoxicated. Factors like your customers’ weight and sex, number of drinks consumed and length of time since their last alcoholic beverage all influence their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

By familiarizing yourself with a BAC chart (like the one below), you can more easily estimate the approximate intoxication of customers. Proper alcohol training will help you use a BAC chart and other tools to prevent overservice and protect your business from legal liability under New York dram shop laws.

Blood Alcohol Content Chart

Source: California DMV

What are some signs of intoxication I can look for to prevent illegal sales?

Our alcohol seller/server training provides a detailed look at the science of intoxication that will help you recognize the signs associated with varying levels of alcohol impairment.

As BAC increases, the signs of impairment intensify. As a rough guide, look for some of the following signs to judge a customer’s general level of intoxication. This chart is organized by the BAC at which most patrons will begin to exhibit each behavior.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Signs of Intoxication
  • Some loss of judgment
  • Relaxation
  • Altered mood
  • Slight body warmth
  • Exaggerated behavior
  • Some loss of small-muscle control
  • Impaired judgment
  • Usually good feelings
  • Decreased alertness
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Poor muscular coordination
  • Loss of balance
  • Some slurred speech
  • Slow reaction times
  • Impaired sight and hearing
  • Impaired judgment, self-control, reasoning and memory
  • Inability to detect danger
  • Clear deterioration of reaction time and motor control
  • Obviously slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Slowed thinking
  • Far less muscle control than normal
  • Vomiting may occur
  • Significant loss of balance

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Is it necessary to provide bags to customers carrying alcoholic beverages out of the store?

There is no requirement under the ABC Law for alcoholic beverages to be packaged in a bag when they are being taken out of a retail store for off-site consumption.

Can customers bring home a bottle of wine from a restaurant?

New York state liquor laws allow for the removal of one partially consumed bottle of wine if:

  • The restaurant has the appropriate wine or liquor license
  • The bottle is purchased in connection with a full course meal
  • The patron consumes a portion of wine with the meal
  • The wine is securely resealed
  • The wine is placed in a one-time use, tamper-proof transparent bag
  • A dated receipt for the full course meal and wine is provided to the patron

Business Owner and Retailer FAQs

Where do I need to post my license and warning signs?

You must display your original license certificate in a wood or metal frame behind glass at a visible location within your licensed premises. Your pregnancy warning sign must be placed near the area where alcoholic beverages are sold. Additionally, you must display a sign in a prominent location within the licensed premises that warns against selling to minors and intoxicated individuals.

Am I required to display the prices of alcoholic beverages in my wine or liquor store?

You are required to display the prices of alcoholic beverages directly on the product or on the adjacent shelf space.

Is it permissible to sell alcoholic beverages online?

New York allows licensed businesses to sell alcoholic beverages over the internet, but you can't sell over the internet exclusively. You must have a physical store that is open to the public. Customers can either pick up their orders at your store or have them delivered to a residential address in New York State. However, delivery to commercial business locations is not allowed.

If you use a motor vehicle for delivery, it must be registered to the licensee in the same name as the name on the license. A copy of the license should be kept in the vehicle. Alternatively, the vehicle must have a trucking permit issued by the New York State Liquor Authority.

Can I legally sell alcoholic beverages to customers located in other states?

Whether or not you can sell alcoholic beverages to out-of-state residents depends on the laws of the state in question.

Is it legal for me to allow another entity to conduct business on my licensed premises?

You cannot allow another business entity to operate on the premises. You must have exclusive control of the space.

Is it permissible to hire someone who has been convicted of a felony?

Yes, being convicted of a felony does not automatically disqualify an individual from being employed by off-premises retail licensees.

Is it legal to employ a police officer at a licensed wine or liquor store?

No, police officers are not allowed to work at licensed wine or liquor stores.

Law and Regulation FAQs

What is a dram shop law?

Dram shop laws are regulations that hold businesses and servers liable for damages caused by illegal alcohol sales. If an employee sells alcohol to an underage customer or a visibly intoxicated person, the business or employee could be held liable for any injuries the customer causes. This can include damages and injuries related to a drunk driving accident.

These laws are put in place to promote responsible alcohol service. ATAP certification training prepares employees to recognize and avoid illegal sales.

Is New York a dram shop law State?

Yes. Alcohol sellers and servers in New York may be held liable for serving underage or visibly intoxicated patrons.

In New York State, the laws governing the sale and service of alcoholic beverages are called the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Laws. These laws include dram shop laws and other regulations on the sale and service of distilled spirits in bars, restaurants and other establishments.

Some critical alcohol laws in New York include:

  • Age restrictions. It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 21 in New York.
  • Licensing requirements. Establishments that serve alcoholic beverages must obtain a license from the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) and comply with its regulations.
  • Hours of operation. Bars and restaurants in New York are generally prohibited from serving alcoholic beverages between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. each day, but the times can vary. Check your county for specific regulations on closing times.
  • Happy hour restrictions. Bars and restaurants are prohibited from offering "happy hour" promotions that advertise free drinks, multiple drinks for the price of a single drink or unlimited drinks for a fixed price.
  • Liability for serving intoxicated patrons. Establishments that serve alcoholic beverages can be held liable for any harm caused by a patron who becomes intoxicated on their premises and then causes injury or damage to others.

Does New York have a corkage law?

If the establishment has a license to sell wine and the wine was purchased and consumed with a meal, customers may take home one partially consumed bottle. The bottle must be resealed and placed into a securely sealed transparent bag. A dated receipt must be enclosed with the bottle.

What are New York's public intoxication laws?

In New York, it is illegal to appear in public while you are intoxicated to the point where you may endanger yourself or others. This is considered a violation of New York Penal Law Section 240.40, which is a violation-level offense.

The punishment for public intoxication in New York may include a fine, community service or attendance at an alcohol treatment program. Additionally, people under 21 years old who are found to be drinking or possessing alcohol may face additional charges for violating New York's laws on underage drinking.

Many local municipalities have laws or ordinances related to public intoxication, so it's essential to check with your local government for additional regulations.

What is the tied house law?

Under the tied house law, it is illegal for individuals who have a direct or indirect interest in a manufacturing or wholesale business to obtain a wine or liquor store license in New York. This law applies to individuals located within New York State, in another state or abroad.

What is the 200 foot law?

According to the 200 foot law, also known as the 200 foot rule, the New York State Liquor Authority is not permitted to issue a wine or liquor store license to any premises that are located within 200 feet of a school or place of worship located on the same street.

Alcohol Compliance FAQs

What is the legal drinking age in New York?

The legal age to consume alcoholic beverages is 21.

What is the legal age to pour, sell or serve alcohol in New York?

The legal age to sell packaged liquor, pour alcohol or serve alcohol to customers is 18. Many businesses require alcohol servers to complete an approved alcohol training program and hold a valid certificate of completion from the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA). This training program must cover topics such as responsible alcohol service, identifying underage drinkers and recognizing signs of intoxication.

How late can you buy alcohol in New York?

The times that businesses in New York are legally permitted to sell alcohol can vary from county to county. In addition, the regulations may be different for certain types of businesses, such as bars, restaurants, liquor stores and supermarkets.

In many counties, alcohol can be sold for on-premises consumption from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Sundays. Grocery and convenience stores can generally sell alcohol 24 hours on weekdays but not on Sundays. Visit the New York State Liquor Authority website to determine your county's specific closing hours and regulations.

Are there any dry counties in New York?

Although New York State cannot decide on dry counties, individual cities and towns have the authority to become dry. This can be done by prohibiting on- or off-premises alcohol sales or by banning specific types of alcohol, such as beer, wine or spirits. Currently, there are few dry towns in New York, primarily located in rural areas of upstate New York.

What is the DUI limit in New York?

The DUI limit is 0.08 BAC for consumers 21 and older. However, 0.02 is considered the DUI/DWI limit for underage drivers.

Is there a maximum limit on the amount of alcohol per drink in New York?

No specific regulations in the state of New York limit the maximum amount of alcohol per drink.

What is the maximum number of drinks you can order at one time in New York?

New York does not regulate a maximum number of drinks that can be ordered simultaneously, but vendors may have their own discretionary rules.

Is it legal to have an open container of alcohol in New York?

It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol on any public sidewalk, road or park in New York.

Can an individual's identification card be legally confiscated in New York?

In New York, it is not legal for state liquor licenses to confiscate identification cards that they believe to be false. Instead, licensees should refuse to sell alcohol and notify the police or local law enforcement officials of the suspected false ID.

Can you bring wine into a restaurant that is not licensed for liquor?

Customers can bring their own wine to New York restaurants only with the establishment's permission. Restaurants that allow this often charge a fee per bottle, which is known as a corkage fee.