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Brian Donesley

Attorney at Law

Do You Own Your Liquor License? Is it a Property Right You Can Protect?

You may think of licenses as property you own. You treat them as property. You invest in them, build your business 

around your license, and hope to live and support your family and leave something for those you love.

But beware! Idaho law says that there is no right to be in the business of selling alcoholic beverages, maybe
not even to be given a good reason or a fair hearing when the state wants to revoke your license. Courts and
Idaho State Police ABC have caused great concern for liquor licensees in Idaho over the years. The ABC has
great power to rule against you and to change its mind about what is legal and what is not, even after telling
you something different. The courts have said, over and over, that there is no property right in a liquor license.
A license is in legal quicksand in Idaho courts.

In 2009, Governor Otters special “task force on alcoholic beverages pushed a bill to change Idaho LIquor Law.
The task for included reps from restaurants, hotels, developers, cities, countries, the Idaho liquor dispensary,
beer and wine wholesalers.... all of which would gain from making licenses available to every restaurant that
wants one. Your quota license would no longer be needed by any restaurant or hotel. Your value would be
gone... unless you could find a bar to sell it to. The bill was killed by legislators listening to opposition of many
liquor and beer licesnsees across the state, many of you.

This year, again, we have been told that the bill to eliminate the quota system and kill demand for your liquor
license, threatening its value on the market, was coming back. But the Idaho Lisenced Beverage Association
(ILBA) opposes this strongly now, since the change of leadership at ILBA with a new president and board of
directors. Incredibly, it now looks as if the same bill may be brought peicemeal, threatening you again that they
might divide and conquor. ILBA opposes this bill in any form it may take before the Idaho legislature.
Action is essential in order to pass a property rights law to protect you.

ILBA is working on a bill to protect you. You must demand that a liquor license be granted the right to be given
due process rights as property. Otherwise, you cannot expect to be able to borrow money from a bank on it,
to be treated fairly by the government, or to be free from a government taking of your license arbitrarily and
without compensation.

This issue is the single most important legislative matter before you and the ILBA this session.
Contact ILBA to learn what you can do to help, and keep an eye on the ILBA newsletter for updates. When the
time is right, you will be asked to contact your legislators and will receive contact information to do so.


Attorney at Law

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