Alcoholic Beverage Control Law

The purpose of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (“ABC Law”) is to carry out the policies of the State of New York with respect to alcoholic beverages. From the enactment of the ABC Law in 1934 until present day, the policy of the State of New York with respect to alcoholic beverages is that it is necessary to regulate and control the manufacture, sale and distribution of such products within the state “for the purpose of fostering and promoting temperance in their consumption and respect for and obedience to law.” 

Effective April 19, 2015, the stated purpose of the ABC Law was amended to consider, “to the extent possible, supporting economic growth, job development, and the state's alcoholic beverage production industries and its tourism and recreation industry; and which promotes the conservation and enhancement of state agricultural lands; provided that such activities do not conflict with the primary regulatory objectives of the [ABC Law].”

The provisions of the ABC Law were enacted for the “protection, health, welfare and safety of the people of the state.” The ABC Law preempts any local law that attempts to regulate the manufacture or sale of alcoholic beverages. In general, administrative jurisdiction over the ABC Law lies with the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which is part of the Executive Department. The head of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control is the State Liquor Authority. Other departments of state government also are involved in regulating the manufacture of alcoholic beverages. For example, the Department of Taxation and Finance collects excise taxes on alcoholic beverages manufactured in this state or imported into this state for sale. The Department of Agriculture and Markets regulates the agricultural activities related to the production of alcoholic beverages.  

In general, states regulate the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages as “licensing states” or “control states.” A licensing state issues licenses to the entities that will manufacture and sell alcoholic beverages while control states are involved in the actual distribution. Control states will have a monopoly over the sale at wholesale or retail of some (or all) of the different categories of alcoholic beverages.  New York is a licensing state. New York also uses the three-tier system, separating for many purposes the three groups (manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers) involved in the distribution of alcoholic beverages.



Read the ABC Law