2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 125. Alcohol beverages.
125.04 General licensing requirements.
125.04 General licensing requirements.
(1) License or permit; when required. No person may sell, manufacture, rectify, brew or engage in any other activity for which this chapter provides a license, permit, or other type of authorization without holding the appropriate license, permit or authorization issued under this chapter.
(2) Licenses or permits issued in violation of chapter. No license or permit may be issued to any person except as provided in this chapter. Any license or permit issued in violation of this chapter is void.
(3) Applications for licenses and permits.
(a) Contents. The department shall prepare an application form for each kind of license, other than a manager's or operator's license, and for each kind of permit issued under this chapter. Each form shall require all of the following information:
1. A history of the applicant relevant to the applicant's fitness to hold a license or permit.
2. The kind of license or permit for which the applicant is applying.
3. The premises where alcohol beverages will be sold or stored or both.
4. If the applicant is a corporation, the identity of the corporate officers and agent.
4L. If the applicant is a limited liability company, the identity of the company members or managers and agent.
4m. If the applicant is a cooperative organized under ch. 185, the identity of the cooperative members, board of directors, and agent.
5. The applicant's trade name, if any.
6. Any other information required by this chapter.
(b) Application for renewing. The department may prepare a simplified application form for renewal of each kind of license or permit which requires only information pertinent to renewal.
(c) Distribution. The department shall make one copy of each kind of license application that it prepares available to each municipality.
(d) Application form use.
1. An application form prepared by the department shall be used by each applicant for a permit.
2. A replica of an application form prepared by the department shall be used by each applicant for a license, other than a manager's or operator's license.
(e) Place of filing applications.
1. Each application for a license, other than a manager's or operator's license, shall be sworn to by the applicant. The applicant shall file the application for a license with the municipal clerk of the intended place of sale.
2. The applicant shall file the application for a permit with the department.
(f) Time of filing and issuance.
1. Except as provided in subds. 2. and 3., all applications for licenses to sell alcohol beverages shall be filed with the clerk of the municipality in which the premises are located at least 15 days prior to the granting of the license.
2. In counties having a population of 500,000 or more, the governing body of the municipality shall establish the time, prior to the granting of a license, by which an application shall be filed with the clerk.
3. For licenses issued under s. 125.26 (6) for a picnic or other gathering lasting less than 4 days, the governing body of the municipality shall establish the time, prior to the granting of a license, by which an application shall be filed with the clerk.
(g) Publication of application for license. The municipal clerk shall publish each application for a Class “A", Class “B", “Class A", “Class B" or “Class C" license, except licenses under ss. 125.26 (6) and 125.51 (10), prior to its issuance in a newspaper according to the following conditions:
1. The publication shall include the name and address of the applicant, the kind of license applied for and the location of the premises to be licensed.
2. The newspaper utilized for publication shall have been regularly published, on a daily or weekly basis for a period of not less than 2 years before the date of publication in the municipality in which is located the premises to be licensed.
3. If the municipality in which the premises is located has no newspaper, the newspaper utilized for publication shall be one having circulation in the municipality and designated by the governing body. If no designation is made, publication shall be in the newspaper having the largest circulation in the municipality.
4. The newspaper utilized for publication shall be one that is published on a daily basis, except that a weekly newspaper may be utilized if a daily newspaper is not published in the municipality.
5. The publication shall be printed in a daily newspaper on 3 successive occasions, or if a weekly newspaper is utilized, it shall be printed at least once.
6. At the time the application is filed, the applicant shall pay to the clerk the cost of publication as determined under s. 985.08.
(h) Subsequent changes. Within 10 days of any change in any fact set out in an application for a license or permit to sell alcohol beverages, the licensee or permittee shall file with the issuing authority a written description of the changed fact.
1. Any person may inspect applications for licenses to sell alcohol beverages.
2. The clerk of the municipality shall retain all applications made to it for licenses to sell alcohol beverages.
3. The clerk of the municipality may destroy all applications more than 4 years old which have been retained under subd. 2.
(4) List of licensees. By July 15 annually, the clerk of a municipality issuing licenses shall mail to the department a list containing the name, address and trade name of each person holding a license issued by that municipality, other than a manager's or operator's license or a license issued under s. 125.26 (6), the type of license held and, if the person holding the license is a corporation or limited liability company, the name of the agent appointed under sub. (6).
(5) Qualifications for licenses and permits.
(a) Natural persons. Licenses and permits related to alcohol beverages, issued to natural persons under this chapter, may be issued only to persons who fulfill all of the following requirements:
1. Do not have an arrest or conviction record, subject to ss. 111.321, 111.322, 111.335 and 125.12 (1) (b).
2. Have been residents of this state continuously for at least 90 days prior to the date of application.
3. Have attained the legal drinking age.
4. Have submitted proof under s. 77.61 (11).
5. Have successfully completed within the 2 years prior to the date of application a responsible beverage server training course at any location that is offered by a technical college district and that conforms to curriculum guidelines specified by the technical college system board or a comparable training course that is approved by the department or the department of safety and professional services. This subdivision does not apply to an applicant who held, or who was an agent appointed and approved under sub. (6) of a corporation or limited liability company that held, within the past 2 years, a Class “A", “Class A" or “Class C" license or a Class “B" or “Class B" license or permit or a manager's or operator's license.
(b) Criminal offenders. No license or permit related to alcohol beverages may, subject to ss. 111.321, 111.322 and 111.335, be issued under this chapter to any person who has habitually been a law offender or has been convicted of a felony unless the person has been duly pardoned.
(c) Corporations and limited liability companies. No license or permit may be issued to any corporation or limited liability company unless that entity meets the qualifications under pars. (a) 1. and 4. and (b), unless the agent of the entity appointed under sub. (6) and the officers and directors, or members or managers, of the entity meet the qualifications of pars. (a) 1. and 3. and (b) and unless the agent of the entity appointed under sub. (6) meets the qualifications under par. (a) 2. and 5. The requirement that the entity meet the qualifications under pars. (a) 1. and (b) does not apply if the entity has terminated its relationship with all of the individuals whose actions directly contributed to the conviction.
(d) Operators' and managers' licenses.
1. Paragraph (a) 2. does not apply to applicants for operators' licenses issued under s. 125.17 or to applicants for managers' licenses issued under s. 125.18. Managers' licenses may be issued only to applicants who are residents of this state at the time of issuance.
2. Paragraph (a) 3. does not apply to applicants for operators' licenses under s. 125.17. Operators' licenses may be issued only to applicants who have attained the age of 18.
3. Paragraph (a) 4. and 5. does not apply to any of the following:
a. Applicants for operators' licenses under s. 125.17.
b. Applicants for managers' licenses under s. 125.18.
c. Applicants for temporary Class “B" licenses under s. 125.26 (6) who are not required to hold a seller's permit under subch. III of ch. 77.
d. Applicants for temporary “Class B" licenses under s. 125.51 (10) who are not required to hold a seller's permit under subch. III of ch. 77.
(6) Licenses to corporations and limited liability companies; appointment of agents.
(a) Agent. No corporation or limited liability company organized under the laws of this state or of any other state or foreign country may be issued any alcohol beverage license or permit unless:
1. The entity first appoints an agent in the manner prescribed by the authority issuing the license or permit. In addition to the qualifications under sub. (5), the agent must, with respect to character, record and reputation, be satisfactory to the issuing authority.
2. The entity vests in the agent, by properly authorized and executed written delegation, full authority and control of the premises described in the license or permit of the entity, and of the conduct of all business on the premises relative to alcohol beverages, that the licensee or permittee could have and exercise if it were a natural person.
(b) Successor agent. A corporation or limited liability company may cancel the appointment of an agent and appoint a successor agent to act in the agent's place, for the remainder of the license year or until another agent is appointed, as follows:
1. The successor agent shall meet the same qualifications required of the first appointed agent.
2. The entity shall immediately notify the issuing authority, in writing, of the appointment of the successor agent and the reason for the cancellation and new appointment.
(c) Authority of successor. A successor agent shall have all the authority, perform all the functions and be charged with all the duties of the previous agent of the corporation or limited liability company until the next regular or special meeting of the issuing authority if a license is held. However, the license of the corporation or limited liability company shall cease to be in force if, prior to the next regular or special meeting of the issuing authority, the clerk of the licensing authority receives notice of disapproval of the successor agent by a peace officer of the municipality issuing the license.
(d) Approval of successor. The license of the corporation or limited liability company shall not be in force after the next regular or special meeting of the licensing authority unless and until the successor agent or another qualified agent is appointed and approved by the licensing authority.
(e) Fee. The corporation or limited liability company shall, following the approval of each successor agent or another qualified agent by the licensing authority, pay to the licensing authority a fee of $10.
(f) Resignation. If an agent appointed under this subsection resigns, he or she shall notify in writing the corporation or limited liability company and the authority issuing the license or permit within 48 hours of the resignation.
(8) Payment of license fee. No license for the sale of alcohol beverages may be delivered to the applicant until the applicant files with the municipal clerk a receipt showing payment of the license fee to the appropriate treasurer. No city or village may require an applicant to pay the license fee more than 15 days prior to the date the license is to be issued. No town may require an applicant to pay the license fee more than 30 days prior to the date the license is to be issued.
(9) Separate license or permit required. Except as provided under ss. 125.27 (2) (a) and 125.51 (5) (c) 1., wholesalers, manufacturers, rectifiers, brewers, brewpubs, and retailers shall have a separate permit or license covering each location or premises, except a licensed public warehouse, from which deliveries and sales of alcohol beverages are made or at which alcohol beverages are stored.
(10) License and permit framed, posted.
(a) Frame. Permits for the retail sale of alcohol beverages, and licenses for the sale of alcohol beverages, shall be enclosed in a frame having a transparent front which allows the license or permit to be clearly read.
(b) Display. All permits and licenses under par. (a), other than those for the sale of fermented malt beverages for consumption on the premises issued to the state fair or to county or district fairs receiving state aid, shall be conspicuously displayed for public inspection at all times in the room or place where the activity subject to permit or licensure is carried on.
(11) Expiration dates. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter:
(a) Permits. All permits to sell alcohol beverages shall expire as specified in the valid certificate issued under s. 73.03 (50).
1. The municipal governing body of a 1st class city may issue a retail license for the sale of alcohol beverages at any time during a year. Each license shall be valid for one year and shall specify its date of expiration.
2. All licenses other than those specified under subd. 1. shall expire on June 30 of each year.
(12) Transfer of licenses and permits.
(a) From place to place. Every alcohol beverage license or permit may be transferred to another place or premises within the same municipality. An alcohol beverage warehouse permit under s. 125.19, a winery permit under s. 125.53 or an intoxicating liquor wholesaler's permit under s. 125.54 may be transferred to another premises within this state. Transfers shall be made by the issuing authority upon payment of a fee of $10 to the issuing authority. No retail licensee, retail permittee, intoxicating liquor wholesaler or holder of a warehouse or winery permit is entitled to more than one transfer during the license or permit year. This paragraph does not apply to a license issued under s. 125.51 (4) (v) or to a reserve “Class B" license, as defined in s. 125.51 (4) (a).
(b) From person to person.
1. Licenses to sell alcohol beverages may be transferred to persons other than the licensee if the licensee, or an applicant for a subsequently granted license, dies, becomes bankrupt or makes an assignment for the benefit of creditors during the license year or after filing the application. If a retail licensee becomes disabled, the municipality may, upon application, transfer the license to the licensee's spouse if that spouse may hold a license under sub. (5) and complies with all of the requirements under this chapter applicable to original applicants, except that the spouse is exempt from payment of the license fee for the year in which the transfer takes place.
2. Upon the happening of any of the events under subd. 1., the personal representative, the surviving spouse if a personal representative is not appointed, the trustee or the receiver may continue or sell or assign the business.
4. If the business is sold or assigned, the license may be transferred to the successor owner or assignee at no charge if:
a. He or she complies with the requirements applicable to original applicants; and
b. He or she is acceptable to the issuing authority and consent to the transfer is given by the issuing authority.
(13) Penalties. Any person who violates sub. (1) may be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 9 months or both.
Sub. (3) (h) [formerly s. 176.14] requires a licensee to update an application during the license year to facilitate scrutiny of the ongoing operation. The licensing authority has discretion to approve or disapprove any reported expansion of a licensed premises. Alberti v. City of Whitewater, 109 Wis. 2d 592, 327 N.W.2d 150 (Ct. App. 1982).
Licensees who are natural persons are liable for criminal acts of employees. State v. Beaudry, 119 Wis. 2d 96, 349 N.W.2d 106 (Ct. App. 1984). But see s. 125.115.
The registered agent of a corporate alcohol beverage licensee is subject to vicarious criminal liability for an employee's violation of the closing hour law. State v. Beaudry, 123 Wis. 2d 40, 365 N.W.2d 593 (1985).
A person may be a “habitual law offender" under sub. (5) (b) without having been convicted of any crime. Smith v. Oak Creek, 139 Wis. 2d 788, 407 N.W.2d 901 (1987).
Sub. (1) requires that the actual owner of an establishment selling intoxicating liquor possess the license in his or her own name. State v. Eastman, 148 Wis. 2d 254, 435 N.W.2d 278 (Ct. App. 1988).
A license never should have been issued when a notice of application had not been published as required under s. 125.04 (3) (g), and a license issued without publication is void under s. 125.04 (2). Selling liquor under a void license constitutes a violation of s. 125.66 (1). Under s. 125.12, a renewal licensee, if refused, is guaranteed a right to be heard by the municipality, and the municipality must show cause for refusal, but a new licensee, if refused, has no such guarantee. When an original license is void, the applicant is a new licensee. Williams v. City of Lake Geneva, 2002 WI App 95, 253 Wis. 2d 618, 643 N.W.2d 864, 01-1733.
Proprietors of a bed and breakfast may solicit voluntary contributions from guests at a social event held on the premises to defray the cost of alcohol, but proprietors who do not hold a license may not serve alcohol at a social event only to those who pay an admission fee. 80 Atty. Gen. 218.
A village board's denial of an application for a liquor license did not deprive the applicant of either liberty or property. Scott v. Village of Kewaskum, 786 F. 2d 338 (1986).
90 Proof: Liquor Licensing in Wisconsin. Murrell. Wis. Law. May 2009.