Can a Felon Get a Liquor License?

Are you Eligible for a Liquor License if You Have a Felony? Ever since the prohibition it has been legal to buy, sell, and consume alcohol. There are regulations in place to track this consumption. In order for you to serve alcohol, you must have a liquor license.

Whether you are the owner of the business or a server you’ll need this license. Having the right credentials may be important to your job.

With a felony, this, like many other options may be difficult to get. Is it possible for a person to get a liquor license after a felony conviction?

What is the Liquor License for?

Anyone who wants to serve alcohol will have to prove that they are able to do so in a responsible way. This can be very important to help keep crime down and prevent anyone from getting hurt.

The ability to sell liquor is a big responsibility. It is your duty to protect a person you’re serving from breaking the law. You have to know when to stop serving them.

If someone leaves your business and gets a DUI that may be your fault. Enforcing alcohol consumption guidelines is an important responsibility.

This can, at times, be against their own wishes. Unfortunately, this is part of having a liquor license.

What if a teenager came into your business to buy a drink but used a fake ID? You can be guilty of any trouble that kid gets into.

The liquor license is a certification given to those who will follow the rules. You must also have strong morals and be able to make tough decisions to protect others.

What Does it Take to Get the License?

Liquor license laws tend to vary by the city and state you live. You’ll want to check with the local government to be sure you can get one.

Get the proper liquor license for your needs. There are three types:

  • Beer & Wine License – This is one that restricts your options to selling only wine and beer. Liquor and/or spirits are not sold with this license.
  • Restaurant Liquor License – This allows you to serve beer, wine, and spirits.
  • Tavern Liquor License – If the sales of alcohol make up more than 50% of your profits you will need this license. If you are opening a bar that sells food this is the option you’ll go with.
  • Brewpub Liquor License – This license allows you to craft and sell your own beer.

Once you’ve decided on which license fits your business, you’ll then have to understand the cost. Again, this depends on your local government, but it can range anywhere from $50-$300,000. Not an unreasonable cost depending on where you are and how much money you can make off of alcohol sales.

Another factor to consider is whether you’re in a dry county or state. This means that liquor sales and consumption are not permitted. You won’t be able to get a license in these areas.

Tennessee, for example, is a “dry” state. The state allows each individual county to set its own guidelines. Some allow alcohol sales throughout the week; others limit the types of alcohol you can offer.

Some states allow only so many liquor licenses. Once this quota is full, no one else is eligible for a license.

Once you’ve gotten your liquor license you will have to renew it. Some states will make you do this every year.

Can it be Revoked?

There are several reasons that you can lose your liquor license. Serving to minors may mean you lose your license. Letting someone drink too much is another issue. It all comes down to how responsible you are with your ability to sell.

Immoral business practices are may result in the revocation of a liquor license.

If you commit a crime as a liquor license holder it may hurt your chances of having it renewed.

Background Checks and Moral Turpitude

Moral turpitude means that you have done something society doesn’t think is acceptable. It often results in criminal punishment.

In all states, there is some kind of background check to become a licensed alcohol server. Most states have similar guidelines. These ensure the person who is getting the license will be responsible.

Many factors will influence your success, such as the number of convictions you’ve had. The nature of your crimes will also factor in. Were they alcohol-related or drug-related? Did you complete rehabilitative programs and your sentence?

One thing that you are in complete control of is were you honest about your conviction when you applied? False reporting can mean disqualification.

Most states also have some degree of a waiting period after your crime. This generally ranges from 5-10 years.

What Opportunities Will It Open for You?

Explore the options that you do have to sell liquor because it is still possible to achieve success. There are things you can do right now to work towards this goal.

Explore your state laws. Determine how many people need the liquor license to run your establishment. Suppose that your business partner has a clean record. This may mean that you do not have to have a liquor license at all.

Expungement is another option for you. Although this has a waiting period. It is worth exploring if you’d like to earn an income where you’ll need the license.

An expungement of your record removes the felony conviction. Having the record removed means that it will not show up on a background check.


Liquor licenses are useful for anyone who wants to serve alcohol. It is important to have the state given authority to sell alcohol.

Getting a liquor license means you have to do a background check. This is because the ability to sell alcohol comes with a lot of responsibility.

If you sell liquor to a minor or someone gets hurt due to your negligence, the consequences can affect lives. Liquor license application process examines a person’s moral character. It is important to be honest and upfront.

It will be helpful if you’re going into a business to explore the laws in your city, county, and state. Hiring someone with a liquor license may save you from having to have one yourself. If this is not an option, you can have your record expunged.


Leave a Comment