Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

Rules and Regulations Committee #6

Written by Becky Witt

Rule 3.06 – Signs and Hours of Operations. (a) Licensees, except holders of Class “C” licenses, shall indicate by a sign or by legible lettering at least two inches in height upon the outside of the licensed premises, the names of all licensees, as said names appear on the license. (b) All signage, including exterior signage, shall conform to Section 11 of the City of Baltimore’s Zoning Code. (c) All licensees should have a copy of their license issued by the Board in a frame and/or displayed in an area that is visible to the general public. Upon request, by an inspector or any other applicable State or City of Baltimore Police Officer, the licensee shall present the license. (d) All establishments shall post their days and hours of operation on a window or door, in full view. Licensee shall contact the Board and provide the Board the new hours of operation if they change.

Mr. Abraham Hurdle, an attorney who represents licensees, asked whether this licensee name on the door rule is a new requirement. Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth replied that the requirement had been in the rules at least since 1998. She said that sections (b), (c), and (d) were more important to her than section (a). Hurdle noted that maybe ten percent of licensees actually comply with this rule. Regarding section (c), there was some discussion about the frame requirement; Bailey-Hedgepeth explained that the inspectors prefer to see the license in a frame. Under subsection (d), the committee suggested that the wording be changed so that the licensee would only have to report to the Board if their regular hours of operation change, and that they should have to provide the Board with that information within thirty days.

Rule 3.07 – Lighting. (a) Licensees shall have every portion of their licensed premises, which is open to the public, illuminated by sufficient natural or artificial lighting to insure clear visibility and to permit patrons to read a menu or newsprint.

After a long discussion of the history of this rule, the committee members suggested that the rule be rewritten to reflect local law that already governs visibility and lighting.

Rule 3.08 – Sanitation and Safety (a) Licensees shall operate their establishments at all times in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Housing and Community Development, Baltimore City Police Department, and the rules and regulations of the Fire Department of Baltimore City. (b) Licensees shall provide containers for the disposition of garbage and refuse material that conform with the requirements of the Bureau of Sanitation of Baltimore City, shall keep such containers covered at all times, and shall remove all refuse material regularly to avoid accumulation. (c) Licensees shall have prominently displayed in the kitchens and toilet rooms used by employees placards issued by the Health Department of Baltimore City pertaining to the washing of hands after leaving the toilet.

Rule 3.09 – Rest Room Facilities and Health Regulations (a) Licensees shall provide on the licensed premises adequate, sanitary and fully functioning restroom facilities for all patrons. (b) Licensees shall be in compliance with all applicable State, County, and local Department of Health laws, rules, and regulations. (c) The restrictions enumerated in subsection (a) of this Rule do not apply to Class A or Class A-2 Licensees.

Rule 3.10 – Communications: (a) Licensees shall provide the Board with an operating and functional telephone number, email address, and fax number (if applicable) which the Board will use to maintain communications with the licensee.

After discussion about these rules, the committee recommended some minor wording changes but kept the content of each rule.

Rule 3.11 – Delivery of Alcoholic Beverages (a) Registration Process: All licensees desiring to deliver alcoholic beverages shall complete the Registration form with original signatures and receive a Letter of Authorization from BLLC before deliveries can be made during renewal period. Delivery approval will be noted on the license. (b) Delivery Protocols and Limitations (i) All delivery persons shall be a bona fide employee on the payroll or a licensee. Delivery persons shall be at least 18 years of age or older. (ii) A licensee may not employ any solicitor or salesman for the purpose of soliciting outside of the licensed place of business or taking orders for the sale of any alcoholic beverages within this State. (iii) The sale of alcoholic beverages may not be consummated outside of the licensed place of business. (iv) Alcoholic beverages shall be delivered in a sealed package or container. No mixed drinks may be delivered. (v) The person receiving the alcoholic beverages shall be 21 years of age or older. The delivery person shall check the identification of the customer if there is any doubt as to the age of the person. The person shall sign and acknowledge that they are 21 years of age or older. (vi) Each delivery shall be acknowledged by the completion of a delivery form. Each form shall be completely filled out. Nothing is to be left blank. (You will need to make a supply of the Delivery Forms for your use.) (vii) The original Delivery Forms and/or approved electronic records of sales shall be available upon the inspection of the premises by BLLC Inspectors. (viii) Deliveries cannot be made to another licensed establishment. (ix) Deliveries can only be made within Baltimore City limits. (x) Class A, Wine/Beer licensees can deliver beer and wine. (xi) Class A, Beer, Wine and Liquor licenses can deliver any type of alcoholic beverages. (xii) Class B/D, Beer Only licensees can deliver beer only. (xiii) Class B/D, Beer and Wine licensees can deliver beer and wine. (xiv) Classes B, D and BD7, Beer, Wine and Liquor licensees can deliver any type of alcoholic beverages. (xv) The privilege of delivering alcoholic beverages shall be withdrawn immediately by the Baltimore City Liquor Board at any time if all restrictions are not adhered to – this includes failure to maintain proper records of deliveries and sales.

Mr. Stanley Fine, chair of the committee, and an attorney who represents licensees, argued that licensees should be allowed to hire independent contractors to deliver alcohol. Thomas Akras, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Liquor Board, said that Article 2B requires that the delivery person be an employee of the licensed establishment. Mr. Peter Kimos, a licensee, said that the age limit should be raised to 21, but the committee agreed that, since Article 2B sets the age for serving alcohol at 18, the rules shouldn’t set a different age limit. Mr. Tom Yeager, from Downtown Partnership, pointed out that the criminal code may prohibit 18 year olds making deliveries of alcohol.

Online sales: There was then a lengthy discussion of the legality of online sales, especially through smartphone apps like Drizly, which recently began delivering alcohol in Baltimore. State law and Liquor Board rules require that a purchase of alcohol be made at the licensed premises; if a patron is buying through an app, the purchase is being made from the app maker on an off-site server and is not happening at the licensed premises. Another issue, raised by Hurdle, is that the alcohol delivery apps solicit online on behalf of licensed businesses, for example, via Twitter ads; hiring a third party solicitor to promote a licensed premises is illegal under the Liquor Board’s rules. The licensees on the committee expressed concern that the IDs of the purchasers may not be checked appropriately when selling online.

Rule 3.12 – Public Welfare (a) Licensees shall operate their establishments in such a manner as to avoid disturbing’ the
peace, safety, health, quiet, and general welfare of the community.

This rule remained the same.

Chapter 4: Operations

Rule 4.01 – Minors: (a) Sales to Minors – No licensee shall sell, furnish, or allow to be furnished by his/her agent or employee alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverages for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age. (b) Minor Employee: In Baltimore City, a licensee may employ a person 18 years of age or older to sell, serve, deliver, or otherwise deal with alcoholic beverages.

The committee removed the part of section (a) that prohibits licensees from selling to a person with the knowledge that the patron is purchasing alcohol for someone under 18. This prohibition is not in Article 2B.

Rule 4.02 – Inebriates & Drug Addicts: (a) A licensee, his or her agent(s) and/or employee(s) shall not sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to any intoxicated person, or to any person who appears to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or who is acting in a disorderly manner. A licensee, his or her agent(s) and/or employee(s) shall not permit any intoxicated person, or any person who appears to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or who is acting in a disorderly manner, to consume or possess any alcoholic beverage on the licensed premises. The licensee, his or her agent(s), and/or employee(s) shall determine that the person to whom the sale or service is made, or who is consuming or possessing an alcoholic beverage on the licensed premises, is not intoxicated, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or acting in a disorderly manner prior to the sale, service, possession or consumption of any alcoholic beverage.

The licensees’ attorneys on the committee noted that this rule is difficult for the agency to enforce; Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth replied that it is difficult for the agency to enforce, but it is not difficult for the licensees to follow.

Rule 4.03 – Solicitation (a) No licensee shall permit or suffer any person, employed in or a frequenter of his establishment to solicit for himself or others the purchase by patrons of any product sold therein, or money with which to buy the same, or with which to play any amusement or entertainment device; nor shall any licensee permit or suffer any person, employed in his establishment to accept such product or money as a gift from a patron, except by way of a bona fide gratuity. (b) No licensee shall pay, offer to pay, or suffer to be paid by any person any commission, gratuity or fee in money, goods or other consideration for or in connection with the sale of any product or the use of any amusement or entertainment device. This subsection does not apply to a licensee who has been issued a license under Art 2B § 6-201(d)(6)(d-1) or Art. 2B (c) No licensee shall employ any solicitor or salesman for the purpose of soliciting outside of the licensed premises, orders for the sale of alcoholic beverages and no sale shall be consummated outside of the licensed premises. (d) No licensee shall employ or use any loud speaker or other sound-making or amplifying device which projects the sound outside the licensed premises for the purpose of soliciting orders for the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Liquor Board staff suggested that they could create an exception in the rules for online solicitations, since smartphone apps are already soliciting online. Mr. Hurdle objected to this and asked why the rules should privilege online solictation over any other kind of solicitation. In violation of proposed section (c), sales through online apps are consummated outside of the licensed premises; the way that the committee members understand the apps to work is that the money goes to the company that owns the app, and the licensee gets paid by the app company later, minus the app company’s percentage. Essentially, the companies in the online delivery service are selling alcohol without a license, in violation of Article 2B. The Liquor Board staff said that they would look at the regulations and rewrite them.

Rule 4.04 – Free Food and Prizes (a) No licensee shall offer free food to encourage the sale of alcoholic beverages. Provided, however, that licensees may offer free of charge cheese, crackers, pretzels, nuts and the like in connection with the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises. (b) No alcoholic beverages shall be sold or given away as prizes in connection with the playing of any game or device.

Rule 4.05 – Prohibited hours: (a) No licensee shall permit any person, including, but not limited to an employee, patron, or family member of an employee or agent of the licensee, to consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises during hours when such sales are prohibited by law. (b) No alcoholic beverages shall be served, dispensed, furnished or given away in any part of the premises during hours when such sales are prohibited by law.

Rule 4.06: Alcoholic Beverage Containers: (a) No licensee shall reuse or refill any bottle or other container of alcoholic beverages, unless it is a refillable container as defined and outlined by Article 2B, Section 8-203(e); nor shall any licensee adulterate, dilute, or fortify the contents of any such bottle or container. (b) No licensee shall sell, serve or furnish alcoholic beverages (other than beer or wine) by the bottle for consumption on the premises, except Class “B” licensees serving alcoholic beverages to patrons in rented or leased private rooms.

The rules above were all left as-is.

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