TABC Special Event Regulations
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is the state agency regulating all phases of the alcoholic beverage industry in Texas. It is important to ensure compliance with TABC regulations at the risk of prosecution. Contact your regional field office concerning your particular event. Phone numbers are available at: http://www.tabc.state.tx.us/contact_us/local_field_office.asp. The is section was created by TMO legal fellowship intern Emily Burrows during the summer of 2009.
Disclaimer: The Texas Music Office does not intend for this advice to provide or replace professional legal advice in any way. These suggestions are only intended to provide a short-answer reference guide to the basic legal and business practices associated with the music industry. In your own interest, consult with an attorney before entering into any contractual agreement or taking any action against copyright infringement.
How do I legally serve beer and liquor at a special event?
It is legally possible to provide alcoholic beverages without a permit; however, the following rules must be followed:
- You may not ask for money in any form
- You may not ask for a donation, have a tip jar for servers or charge for drinks
- Drinks must be free to any adult who requests a drink
- If only paying customers receive “free” drinks, it is not really free
- You may not charge a cover at the door or provide a paid service
- You may not furnish alcohol to anyone under the age of 211
- Class A misdemeanor – potential fine of $4,000.00 and/or jail term not to exceed 1 year2
- Requires a system of age identification (wristbands, marks on hands, ID checks for each drink)
- You may not provide alcohol to intoxicated persons
- Signs of intoxication include coordination difficulties, reduced judgment and inhibitions and problems with vision and reflexes
- You may have servers who are not TABC certified
Contact your local police department to ensure that you are permitted to hold an event at the location
What if a liquor or beer manufacturer or distributor donates the alcohol as a sponsor?
Manufacturers and wholesalers may, as a social courtesy, provide liquor or other things of value to unlicensed persons who are not employed or affiliated with the holder of a retail license or permit.3 However, you may not sell the product without a permit. See above for rules regarding serving
alcohol free of charge.
What if I want to sell alcohol?
You cannot sell alcohol without having an appropriate license or permit.4 There is a potential
for fines and/or jail time if you do.5 Another option is
to have a licensed retailer sell for you (see below).
Types of Licenses &
- Temporary Wine & Beer Retailer’s Permit6 (includes malt liquor)7
- The permit will only be issued to someone who already has a wine & beer retailer permit or a mixed beverage permit.8 The permit allows sale of alcohol on or off the premises of the permit holder for no more than four days.9
- Cost: $201.00
- Daily Temporary Mixed Beverage Permit10
- This permit may be issued to a holder of a mixed beverage permit for the temporary sale of authorized alcoholic beverages11
- May also be issued to a charitable, civic, fraternal and religious organizations
- Liquor may not be donated, it must have been purchased from a local authorized distributor12
- Cost: $221.00
- Special Three-Day Wine and Beer Permit13
- TABC can directly issue a special 3-day wine and beer permit to a charitable, civic or religious organization for the temporary sale of wine, beer or malt liquor on the premises for which the permit is issued14
- Cost: $201.00
- Criminal Liabilities:
- Criminal negligence for furnishing alcohol to a minor17
- Criminal negligence for selling to an habitual drunkard or an intoxicated or insane person18
- TABC Sanctions:
- Depending on the severity of your violations, you may have your TABC license suspended or revoked (and may be potentially barred from reapplying) or have to pay a fine19
- TABC is legally authorized to enter a licensed premise without permission or notification.20 Minors are permitted to attempt to purchase alcohol for sting operations on behalf of TABC.21
- Civil Liabilities:
- If someone you serve becomes intoxicated and causes bodily injury or property damage, you may be liable for damages to the injured party22
- There may also be local laws prohibiting loud events in certain areas. Contact your local law enforcement agency for all applicable rules before planning an event. For more information, see our sound ordinances section.
If you are not eligible to
obtain a permit, another option is to hire an individual or organization
who holds a caterer’s permit or another retail permit. Pricing will
vary by vendor. You may not sell alcohol that has been donated.15
For more information on catering permits, visit our caterer's permits section of our TABC venues requirements guide.
If you would like to sell alcohol
without an outside vendor and you are not associated with a charitable,
civic, fraternal or religious organization, you will be required to
obtain a retail permit for yourself. However, this option would likely
not be useful for a special event because it requires posting a sign
for sixty days that gives public notice of your intent to seek a license/permit
and an extensive application process.16
What liabilities might I face?
Approved by General Counsel for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 TEX. ALCO. BEV. CODE ANN. § 106.06 (2007).
2 Id. at (c).
3 See 16 TEX. ADMIN. CODE §§ 45.113(b)(5), .117(b)(4) (2004).
4 TEX. ALCO. BEV. CODE ANN. § 61.01(2007).
5 Id. at § 1.05(a).
6 Id. at Chapter 27, subchapter A.
7 Id. at § 27.01.
8 Id. at § 27.04.
9 Id. at § 27.03.
10 Id. at Chapter 30.
11 Id. at § 30.03(a).
12 Id. at § 30.04; See TABC marketing bulletin.
13 Id. at Chapter 27, subchapter B.
14 See TABC §§ 27.11, .13.
15 See TABC marketing bulletin.
16 TABC “Application Guide for Retailers”
17 TABC § 106.03(a)
18 Id. at § 101.63(a)
19 16 TEX. ADMIN. CODE Part 3, Ch. 34 – Schedule of Sanctions & Penalties
20 TABC § 101.04
21 See TABC §§ 106.02, .05; Phillips v. State, 161 S.W.3d 511
22 TABC § 2.02(a)