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Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control
Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control
 
  ABC Frequently Asked Questions  
 
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Question and Answers

1
What is The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control?

The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Div. of ABC or ABC) is the unit of State Government that is charged with regulating the commerce of alcoholic beverages within the State of New Jersey. The 21st amendment to the United States Constitution gave each state the right to determine whether to allow alcoholic beverages, and, if so, how to regulate them. As soon as the amendment was adopted in 1933, New Jersey enacted its Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, which is commonly known as Title 33 (since the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law is contained in the Revised Statutes as the 33rd title listed alphabetically by major subject matter, and under the title of “Intoxicating Liquors”). In that law, a Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was established under a Commissioner. In the late 1940’s, after New Jersey’s 1947 Constitution was adopted, some departments were consolidated and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was absorbed into and became a division of the Department of Law and Public Safety under the New Jersey Attorney General.

The Division of ABC is headed by a Director, who is appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Director is required to supervise the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages in such a manner as to fulfill the public policy and legislative purpose of the Alcoholic Beverage Control law. Investigations of violations of the ABC law are conducted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Investigations Bureau).

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2
How old must someone be to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages on a licensed premises?

A person must be 21 years of age or older to legally purchase or consume any alcoholic beverage on a licensed premises. There is absolutely no exception to this. (N.J.S.A. 9:17B-1) However, persons under the age of 21 can legally drink in connection with a religious ceremony or at home under parental supervision.

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3
How old must someone be to own a license or be employed by a licensee?

The lawful age to own a license and to purchase alcoholic beverage products for resale under a license privilege is 18 years of age, (N.J.S.A. 9:17B-1)

Bartender, waiter or sales clerk: 18 years*
Entertainer: 18 years*
Restaurant & hotel worker not selling alcohol: 16 years**
Stock clerk in distribution licensee: 15 years***
Caddy or pin setter: 15 years***
 Waiter (not selling alcohol) for consumption licensee which is not restaurant or hotel: 16 years***
*Although a person must be 18 years of age to be employed as an entertainer (includes members of a band, etc.), N.J.S.A. 34:2-2 I.17, et seq., provides for the employment of younger persons in certain "theatrical productions." This is under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Department of Labor.
**To qualify as a restaurant, the establishment must regularly and principally be used for the purpose of providing meals to the public, having an adequate kitchen and dining room equipped for the preparing, cooking and serving of food for its customers and in which no other business, except such as is incidental to such establishment, is conducted. As a rough rule of thumb, to qualify as a restaurant, the establishments should have table (i.e. "sit-down") service with a full service menu, proper and adequate equipment to be considered a bona fide restaurant (e.g., food freezers, dish washer, oven, etc.) and the majority of its business revenues should be from the sale of prepared food for consumption on the premises, with revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages merely being ancillary thereto.
***Permits for the employment of minors under 18 years of age must first be obtained from the Division of ABC before (or within ten days) such persons are employed on a licensed premises.

These rules, including the requirements for permits, apply to children of licensees as well, if they are employed on the licensed premises in any capacity.

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4
Are non-licensed restaurants permitted to allow customers to bring their own alcoholic beverages (byob) for consumption with their meals?

Unless there is a local ordinance prohibiting it, customers of an unlicensed restaurant may be permitted by the ownership of the restaurant to bring and consume only wine and beer. The restaurant can supply glasses, ice, etc., but may not impose a cover, corkage or service charge. Also, under no circumstances may spirituous liquor be permitted. There may be no advertising whatsoever of the fact that wine or beer may be permitted. Additionally, the owner may not permit wine or beer to be consumed during hours in which the sale of these products is prohibited by licensees in that municipality, nor allow consumption of beer or wine by persons under the age of 21 years or by persons who are actually or apparently drunk or intoxicated. (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-27).

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5
How is the quantity of alcohol indicated in the different types of alcoholic beverages?

In distilled spirits, the alcohol content is indicated in “Proof,” which is equal to twice the actual percentage of alcohol. For example, a distilled spirit which is shown to be 60 proof contains 30% alcohol. The alcoholic content of wine is indicated in percentage by volume. This gives the actual percentage of the beverage that is alcohol. For beer and other malt alcoholic beverages, although the percentage of alcohol is not shown on the label, the alcohol content is usually given in percentage of alcohol by weight. This percentage number will usually appear to be slightly less than if the alcohol content were shown by volume.

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6
May a patron take from a restaurant an unfinished portion of wine in an alcoholic beverage version of a "doggy bag?"

Yes. It is the policy of the State to encourage moderation in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. To permit a diner to take home an unfinished portion of the bottle of wine, rather than consume it all to prevent “waste” of his purchase, furthers that policy. Thus all unfinished bottles of wine may be re-corked and the patron can take them with him/her.

Removal of other open containers of alcoholic beverages from the licensed premises, such as a glass of wine, a mixed drink, an opened bottle or can of beer, is still prohibited. Licensees should caution patrons using wine “doggy bags” that the wine should be placed in the trunk of the patron’s car while in transit because Motor Vehicle Law prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverage in a car and the presence of a container with its original seal broken in a motor vehicle (buses, taxi cabs and limousines are excluded) can give rise to a presumption that the unfinished bottle was consumed in the car.

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7
Can people make their own wine or beer at home?

A New Jersey resident over the age of 21 may engage in the personal manufacture (or home brewing) of up to 200 gallons of wine or malt alcoholic beverage (beer) for personal or household use or consumption. A permit is no longer necessary for this activity.

In certain circumstances, home brewing is also permissible outside the home if the site of brewing is an authorized “noncommercial” premises and is a licensed instructional facility. A permit is required for this activity.

In either scenario, any wine or beer manufactured is subject to the same limitations; namely, that there is a 200 gallon per year limit and the beer or wine produced may not be sold under any circumstances, nor may it be used for any purpose other than for personal or household use or consumption by the brewer.

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8
Are New Jersey consumers permitted to order alcohol from a catalog or via the internet and have it delivered to their homes?

Update pending.

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9
Can parents be held responsible for their minor children who consume alcohol?

Yes. A parent or guardian having legal custody of a person under 18 years of age is required to exercise reasonable supervision or control over that person in connection with the consumption of alcohol.

If a parent or legal guardian fails or neglects to exercise reasonable supervision or control over the conduct of the person under 18 years of age, for a first offense the parent or legal guardian shall be notified of the violation in writing. If the person under 18 years of age is caught a second or subsequent time, the parent or legal guardian shall be subject to a $500 fine. 

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10
Does New Jersey allow the sale of alcohol at drive up windows?

For public policy reasons the Division of ABC prohibits the sale of alcohol from drive up windows. The relationship between alcoholic beverages and the operation of a motor vehicle is such that the Division of ABC has determined that this type of service could result in the irresponsible consumption of alcohol. In addition, it does not provide the licensee with the best opportunity to visually observe the patron to ascertain whether that patron is of legal age or is impaired or intoxicated.

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11
Can a person have an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle?

New Jersey law prohibits any person from having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, even if the driver or other passenger is not intoxicated. The policy of the State of New Jersey is that alcohol and motor vehicles, when combined, create a dangerous situation and therefore, the consumption of any alcohol by any person in a motor vehicle is prohibited. The penalties for such a violation range from a minimum fine of $200 up to 10 days of community service.

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12
Can bars, restaurants or other licensed establishments run betting pools for sporting events such as the Super Bowl?

As a general rule, neither gambling nor gambling paraphernalia is permitted on a licensed premises. Those games or activities, however, which are licensed under the New Jersey law dealing with bingo, raffles or lotteries may be conducted on a licensed premises.

Any other unlicensed game or activity, where chance and not skill is the primary element and a person pays money or anything else of value in the hope or expectation of winning money, a prize or some other valuable thing, is prohibited. This prohibition does not apply to the holding of a tournament, such as darts or bowling, where skill, and not chance, is the determining factor.

The Division has found that “football pools,” “sport pools” and "super bowl pools” constitute gambling and are, therefore, prohibited on the licensed premises.

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13
How many liquor stores and restaurants are allowed in each municipality?

The number of licenses to sell alcohol for consumption on a licensed premises (restaurants and bars) and to sell alcohol for off premise consumption (packaged goods) within a municipality is determined based upon the population. A municipality may issue one consumption license for every 3,000 of its population. As to distribution licenses, which allow the sale of alcohol for off premise consumption, a municipality may issue one license for every 7,500 of its population. A municipality is allowed to ban all sales of alcohol within its borders if it so desires.

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14
What time must liquor sales stop?

Generally, a municipality, by ordinance, establishes the lawful hour during which alcoholic beverages may be sold. In some municipalities, referenda have been held to establish or limit the hours or days of sale.

By ABC regulation, no retail licensee may sell distilled spirits in original containers (packaged goods) before 9:00 am and after 10:00 pm on any day of the week. Municipalities can further limit these hours by ordinance or referendum, and frequently do so with respect to Sunday mornings. However, by State statute retail licensees can sell wine and beer in original containers (package goods) at any time the municipality has permitted the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink for consumption. In cities of the first class (Jersey City, Newark), however, the hours of sale are regulated by municipal ordinance and State limitations are not applicable. To be certain as to restrictions on hours of sale, check with that particular municipality.

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15
What Does the Counsel to the Director Do?

The primary responsibility of the Counsel to the Director is to provide legal advice to the Director and to assist the Director in formulating Division policy. Objectives include implementing the statutory objectives set forth in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, balancing the interests of each segment of the industry and protecting New Jersey citizens against fraudulent or misleading business activities or practices that foster the immoderate, illegal or irresponsible sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

As the
primary legal representative of the Division, the Counsel to the Director represents the Division in federal, state and administrative law proceedings and advises the Director concerning appeals filed from actions taken by municipal issuing authorities concerning the issuance, renewal, transfer and disciplining of retail licenses. The Counsel to the Director also reviews ordinances that may be adopted by municipalities to govern the local sales of alcoholic beverages, and advises the Director about the adoption, repeal and amendment of all state regulations as well as the implementation of the ABC law through directives and other forms of administrative decisions.

> Counsel to the Director Page

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16
What methods of payment does the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control accept?

The Division accepts personal checks, certified checks and money orders. We do not accept cash

Since May 1, 2008 cash is no longer accepted by the ABC.

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