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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I purchase beer from the ABC store?
A: Stores may sell only spirituous liquor and fortified wine. No ABC store may sell any alcoholic beverage which has not been approved by the Commission. However, special spirituous liquor items not sold in the ABC store may be purchased through special orders. If you are a mixed beverage permitted business, all of your spirituous liquor must be purchased through your local ABC Board and beer and wine purchased through a North Carolina licensed wholesaler.

Q: How much alcoholic beverages can I buy and transport?
A: North Carolina State law allows the following amounts of beer and unfortified wine to be purchased and transported without a permit:

    BEER – Maximum of 80 liters I cans or bottles
        (9) cases and (9) cans/bottles – 355 milliliter (12 oz)
        (7) cases and (1) can/bottle – 473 milliliter (16 oz)
        Kegs – unlimited

    UNFORTIFIED WINE – Maximum of 50 liters
        (10) 5 liter containers
        (66) 750 milliliter bottles
        (50) 1 liter bottles
        (28) 1.75 liter bottles
A person may only bring into the state 4 liters of fortified wine or spirituous liquor or a combination of the two.

A maximum of 100 liters of unfortified wine may be transported with a Purchase-Transportation permit. These free permits are issued by your local ABC store.

Q: What is the legal age?
  • Alcohol may NOT be sold or served to persons less than 21 years old.
  • Alcohol may NOT be possessed or consumed by persons less than 21 years old.
  • No person under 18 years old may be left in charge of a business holding beer and wine permits.
  • No person under 21 years old may be left in charge of a business with any type of spirituous liquor permit.
  • Bartenders must be 21 years old to mix drinks containing liquor.
  • Wait staff must be at least 18 years old to serve drinks containing liquor.

Q: Can I sell alcohol to someone on the day they turn 21 years old?
A: Alcoholic beverages may be legally sold and purchased by a person who is 21 years and older. It is unlawful to sell to, give to or purchase alcoholic beverages for person under 21 years of age. It is unlawful for any person under 21 years of age to possess or consume alcoholic beverages. GS 18B-302

Q: Can I use my business identification card to show proof of age?
A: North Carolina law requires a person to be at least 21 years of age to purchase alcoholic beverages. Attempting to purchase alcohol under the age of 21 or by using a fake or altered identification document is a criminal offense. Acceptable forms of identification are driver’s license, North Carolina special identification card, passport and military identification card. Businesses reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who appears intoxicated or underage. GS 18B-302, 18B-305

Q: Who is Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE)?
A: Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) is a division under the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. Law Enforcement's 117 sworn agents have statewide jurisdiction in enforcing the alcohol, tobacco, controlled substance and gambling laws of the state. Agents also have the authority to investigate and make arrests for any criminal offense.

Q: Can I get citied during an ALE Compliance Check?
A: Yes, a compliance check is a method of sending an underage person into a store to attempt the purchase of alcohol. Failure to comply with state laws and regulations can result in criminal charges resulting in heavy fines, community service, a criminal conviction and termination of employment.

Q: What happens if I get citied for an alcohol violation by an ALE Agent?
A: The two-part process involves going through the local court system for the criminal charges and then through the ABC Commission for an Administrative hearing. The ABC Commission’s Legal Division processes and prosecutes cases involving permittees charged with violations of the ABC laws. Selling and serving alcohol in North Carolina is a serious responsibility. Failure to comply with state laws and regulations can result in criminal charges, resulting in heavy fines, community service, a criminal conviction and termination of employment.

Q: If I am having a party and providing free alcohol but collecting donations at the door, do I need an ABC Permit?
A: It is against the law to sell or possess any alcoholic beverage for sale, without first getting the appropriate ABC permit such as a Special One-Time or Limited Special Occasion Permit. GS 18B-304

Q: Do I have to display my ABC permit?
A: Yes. The statues require each ABC permit that is held by an establishment shall be posted in a prominent place on the premises. The permit must be an original and not a faxed or photocopy. Failure to submit any permit, upon lawful demand, to the Commission, ALE or ABC Officer is unlawful. GS 18B-904. GS 18B-1006

Q: I locked the door to my bar/restaurant after closing at 2:30 AM, can I have a drink?
A: North Carolina law states that it is unlawful to consume alcoholic beverages in a permitted establishment between 2:30 AM and 7:00 AM. All permitted on premise businesses must clear all tables and counters by 2:30 AM of all alcoholic beverages. Additionally, the permittee or his employees can only consume alcoholic beverages when they are off duty for the remainder of the day or night, not wearing a uniform required to perform services and shall not perform any service while or after consuming alcoholic beverages. GS 18B-1004, NCGS Rule 2S.0202, 2S.0211,.

Q: Can I serve beer in my establishment with glasses left by a beer distributor? Or use table tents from distributors?
A: Items such as glassware, cups, umbrellas, ice chests, beach towels, sports equipment, etc., cannot be given, loaned or rented by any industry member to a retailer. However, the retailer may purchase the items from the industry member for use in their establishment, so long as the items have not been customized for a retailer with the retailer’s name or logo. NCGS Rule 2T.0713

Q: What are the rules for Happy Hour Specials?
A: Drink specials must be offered from the time the business opens to the time it closes to not be in volation of ABC laws. Free drinks or reduced price drinks cannot be offered during limited hours. NCGS Rule. 2S.0232

Q: How can I get additional information?
A: Additional information can be obtained by attending the FREE Responsible Alcohol Seller/Server class. The program is designed for both ON and OFF premise businesses. More information can also be found in the Permit Division of this web site, the latest edition of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws and Rules of North Carolina and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Retail Guide for Permittees, or by contacting the ABC Commission, or by calling your local ALE agent.

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