Florida Liquor License Lawyers

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Do I Need a Lawyer for an Florida Liquor License?

Whether you are buying or selling a permitted business in Florida – or applying for a new liquor permit in Florida – there are some key advantages to having an experienced Florida liquor license Attorney on your side. Florida liquor license law is complicated and spans various aspects of administrative, regulatory, civil and even criminal law. As a liquor permit holder in the State of Florida, it is your responsibility to know the state liquor laws and the rules of the State of Florida that apply to the operation of your business. A Florida Liquor License lawyer can help you better understand the rights and obligations you have as a Florida Liquor Permit Holder. Also, it’s important to remember that a purchase or sale of a permitted business is a complex legal transaction – so it’s always advisable that you have competent legal counsel to assist you to ensure that you get the deal you bargained for. 

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Types of Liquor Permits in Florida

What Type of License Do I Need to Sell Alcohol in Florida?

Florida – like many States – have numerous types and classes of liquor permits. Each permit type comes with different legal privileges to distribute, sell or manufacture alcohol. Since these classes span such a wide range of types of businesses, it is difficult to answer this question without knowing significantly more about your proposed business in Florida. If you wish to sell beer or wine, you can purchase a consumption-on-premise license or a package license. There are no restrictions on the number of licenses issued to sell beer and wine. If you wish to sell liquor, a quota license must be obtained – which can be difficult to find and expensive in some circumstances. Our team of Florida Liquor License lawyers can get if you need to locate and negotiate for a liquor permit. Quota licenses are limited in number throughout the state, based on county population and new ones are created for every 7,500 new residents. You can learn more about the types of liquor permits in Florida here

What Type of Florida License Do I Need to Sell Alcohol at a Restaurant?

This question is very fact specific, and the answer will depend largely on a number of factors such as where you are located and the percentage of revenue source derived from alcohol sales. If certain requirements are met, however, you may be able to obtain a special (SRX) restaurant alcoholic beverage license in Florida. The SRX permit is unique in that it is usually an exception to the quota restrictions in Florida. An SRX Florida License will allow you to sell beer, wine and liquor for on premises consumption in connection with the restaurant. However, as explained above, in order to qualify for this unique Florida liquor license, you must derive a certain amount of revenue (usually a simple majority) from food and non-alcoholic sales. In the event that this percentage cannot be met or retained, a restaurant owner is required by Florida law to obtain a quota license. 

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How Much Does a Florida Liquor License Cost?

This is a notoriously difficult question to answer, as the procurement cost of a Florida Liquor License can vary widely depending on supply and demand factors. However, some of the costs are fixed and thus readily ascertainable. For example, the yearly renewal license fee for a liquor license in Florida ranges from $28 to $1,820 – depending on the type of permit you have and the county in which it is located. However, the more frequent question we receive is about the cost of procuring a limited quota license when no new Florida Liquor Permits are available. If you are unable obtain a new license, the only option is to identify and negotiate for the purchase of a permitted business. This often takes the form of a business that is ceasing to operate or who no longer wishes to sell alcohol at their establishment. It’s important to also remember that privileges to sell hard liquor are not permitted to be transferred from one Florida county to another – so the pool of available opportunities may be small depending on where your business is located. If you are looking for a liquor permit in Florida, call a Florida Liquor License lawyer today at 813-445-533. 

What is a Quota Liquor License in Florida?

Permits to sell Liquor, Beer or Wine in Florida are limited in number – referred to as a quota. In Florida, the only way to obtain a new license is to obtain a quota license. A new quota license is created for every additional 7,500 residents added to the population of a county. To obtain a quota permit in Florida, you have one of two options:

  1. Buy a quota permit from an existing license holder; or
  2. Enter the quota drawing and win the right to apply for a new quota permit. 

In order to apply for a quota drawing, you must use the form provided by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The application requirements are as follows:

  • Entry Form. The State of Florida publishes an entry form (DBPR ABT 6033) on the DBPR website. It is vital that all prospective applicants use the form provided by the State of Florida in order to be considered for the drawing. 
  • Entry Fee. While the fee occasionally changes from year to year – as of summer 2021, the fee is $100 per entry form. Remember that the fee is non-refundable. 
  • Entry Limitations. There are limitations to who can apply under Florida law. In general, an entrant may only submit on enter form per county – regardless of if the application is made on behalf of an individual or business. An entrant, therefore, may not be an entrant or interested person on more than one entry form in a single county, regardless of the type of entry submitted.
  • Entry Deadline. As with many aspects of Florida Liquor License law, applicants are held to a strict deadline. The yearly quota drawing entry period will be open from the third Monday in August, and continue for a period of 45 days during any year in which one or more quota alcoholic beverage licenses is available. Entries submitted or received after this deadline will be refused or returned to the entrant.

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What is the Hughes Act Fee on New Florida Liquor Licenses?

Florida Liquor License Law is unique in many ways, and the “Hughes Act” fee is one of the unique characteristics. According to Florida Statute §561.19

A fee of $10,750 shall be collected from each person, firm, or corporation that is issued a new liquor license subject to the limitation imposed in s. 561.20(1) as provided in this section. This initial license fee shall not be imposed on any license renewal and shall be in addition to the license fees imposed by s. 565.02. The revenues collected from the initial license fee imposed by this subsection shall be deposited in the Department of Children and Families’ Operations and Maintenance Trust Fund to be used only for alcohol and drug abuse education, treatment, and prevention programs.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Liquor License in Florida?

This questions, like many other legal questions, will vary widely based on where in the process of procuring a Florida Liquor License you are. If you are waiting on a license drawing, this can take significant time just to find out if you won. On the other hand, if you are negotiating for the acquisition of a business that holds liquor licenses privileges in Florida – the timeframe will be contingent on the complexity of the transaction. However, Florida Law does provide some clear cut timelines for processing once a liquor license application in filed in Florida. Remember that the time to process an application can be significantly reduced by ensuring that the application is correct the first time it is filed. Florida Statute §120.60 states: 

Florida Statute 120.60(1)
Upon receipt of a license application, an agency shall examine the application and, within 30 days after such receipt, notify the applicant of any apparent errors or omissions and request any additional information the agency is permitted by law to require. An agency may not deny a license for failure to correct an error or omission or to supply additional information unless the agency timely notified the applicant within this 30-day period
Florida Statute 120.60(2)
If an applicant seeks a license for an activity that is exempt from licensure, the agency shall notify the applicant and return any tendered application fee within 30 days after receipt of the original application. Each applicant shall be given written notice, personally or by mail, that the agency intends to grant or deny, or has granted or denied, the application for license. The notice must state with particularity the grounds or basis for the issuance or denial of the license.
Florida Statute 120.60(1)
An application for a license must be approved or denied within 90 days after receipt of a completed application unless a shorter period of time for agency action is provided by law. he 90-day time period is tolled by the initiation of a proceeding under ss. 120.569 and 120.57. Any application for a license which is not approved or denied within the 90-day or shorter time period... is considered approved unless certain factors apply.
Initial Application
Exempt Uses
Total Processing Time

Can a Florida Liquor License be Transferred Between Florida Counties?

With respect to transferability of liquor permits in Florida, the law treats licenses differently depending on the type of privileges they bestow. In general, Florida law holds that a license to sell beer or wine can be freely transferred from one county in Florida to the next. However, due to the quota limitations for Florida licenses to sell liquor, a permit that allows for liquor sales cannot be transferred outside of the county in which it was initially issued pursuant to Florida Law.  Florida Statute §561.33 states clearly that:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the transfer or issuance of licenses contrary to the county-by-county limitation on the number of such licenses based on population as provided in s. 561.20(1).

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Florida Liquor License Lawyer?

At Sawan & Sawan, we have extensive experience dealing with businesses of all sizes in the procurement of liquor privileges and regulatory compliance with State liquor laws. Through this experience, we know that cost considerations are always important to business owners – especially at the formative stages of a business. We go to great lengths to ensure client satisfaction by providing flexible payment options, clear cost expectations and direct communication from the outset of the relationship. While the complexity of Florida liquor license transactions can vary significantly, we try to accurately and fairly assess the legal expense of each endeavor up front so that your business can adequately budget for the expense. If you would like a more specific quote, call today at 813-445-5333 to speak to a Florida Liquor License lawyer.  

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Dennis P. Sawan

Partner

Licensed in Ohio and Georgia

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Christopher A. Sawan

Partner

Licensed in Ohio and Michigan

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