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Wisconsin Alcohol Laws FAQ

As part of the Wisconsin Legislature, there are rules that govern the process of selling and serving alcohol. To purchase WI server training, please visit Wisconsin Bartending License. This is a list of questions and answers to Wisconsin Alcohol Laws. These FAQs are based on rules, regulations, and laws regarding the selling/serving of alcohol outlined in sections 125.68 & 125.51 & Publication 302.

Q: Does law 125.68(4)(c)(3) prohibit an establishment from selling an alcoholic drink in a plastic cup and allowing to leave the premises? Wisconsin Bartending License most recommended course
A: No, that law only prohibits the sale of alcohol in its original container for carry out (i.e. a bottle of wine cannot be bought at a restaurant to be carried out).
The law s. 125.51 (3)(a) and (b) requires that alcohol be sold and consumed by on the licensed premises, meaning that alcoholic beverages may not be sold in “to go” containers to be consumed elsewhere.

Q: If I have lost my alcohol-serving license after completing the Wisconsin alcohol serving course, who should I contact for a replacement?

A: To receive a replacement, you would have to contact the training provider vendor where you took the class online or get a copy from the municipality that issued the license. Do not contact the Wisconsin Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement as they do not maintain training certificates or licensing records for the Responsible Beverage Server Courses.

Q: If an underage person, someone under the age of 21, Wisconsin DOR licence 125.04 & 125.17 is accompanied by their parent or guardian over the age of 21 can they be served alcohol?
Yes, if a person under the age of 21 is accompanied by their parent or guardian over the age of 21 they may be served/sold/consume alcohol

Q: If an underage person can be served and drink alcohol in a bar in Wisconsin as long as they are accompanied by their parent or guardian, does the underage person and/or the parent or guardian need to be a Wisconsin resident?
No, the law is applicable to anyone drinking in a Wisconsin establishment that is licensed to serve alcohol.

Q: Does this same law, which allows an underage person to drink, apply if the underage person is at home with their parent or guardian?
A: Yes, if the underage person is with his/her parents of legal drinking age, then the underage person may consume alcoholic beverages.

Q: If an underage person is between the ages of 18-20 and thereby no longer a minor, is it true that they can no longer drink or be served even if they are accompanied by a parent, and that only underage persons under the age of 18 can drink with their parents?
A: No, underage persons may be served/consume alcoholic beverages if accompanied by their parents, regardless of the age of the underage persons.

Q: Are designated drivers who are under the age of 21 allowed to be on the premises of a bar?
Yes, a designated driver under the age of 21 is allowed to be on the premises but must be with their parent, guardian or spouse of legal drinking age.

Q: Is it true that 24 hours before your 21st birthday you are able to legally purchase and consume alcohol?
A: No, you may not legally drink/purchase alcoholic beverages or be on a Class B premises (with certain exceptions) until you are age 21.

Q: Are there any laws or regulations that prohibit patrons from bringing their infant into a bar while they are drinking? madison wisconsin at night with fireworks
A: There is no state alcohol beverage law (if accompanied by a parent or guardian of legal drinking age, anyone under the legal drinking age may enter a bar), but individual house policy may prohibit it.

Q: In the state of Wisconsin can funeral homes/parlors obtain liquor licenses?
A: Most likely not, to get a Class B liquor license, the premises must comply with the sanitation requirements for restaurants, s. 125.68(5). In addition, they cannot get a Class B liquor license without also holding a Class B beer (s. 125.51(3)(f)). There are prohibitions on types of businesses allowed on Class B premises – funeral homes are not among the businesses that are allowed.

Q: At the closing time of a bar no alcohol can be served and everyone needs to leave, who is allowed to stay on the premises after closing time?
A: Only bona fide employees performing work functions are allowed on premises after closing hours.

Q: If I have an individual who runs a winery and sells wine, must any person that is selling the wine have an operator’s license if the owner is not present?
A: If the sale is being made under the winery’s retail license (Class A or Class B), the person selling the wine must either hold an operator’s license or be 18 years of age or older and working under the immediate supervision of someone holding an operator’s license, this is the same requirement of any retailer making sales.

Q: At what time do bars have to be closed on the day that Daylight Savings Time begins as well as the day that it ends?
A: Section 175.095(2), Wis. Stats., states that daylight saving time begins at 2:00 a.m. the second Sunday in March and ends at 2:00 a.m. the first Sunday in November. As such, clocks are set ahead one hour at 2:00 a.m. the second Sunday in March. Thus taverns would close at 3:30 a.m. daylight saving time on this date. On the first Sunday in November, the clocks are set back an hour at 2:00 a.m.; bars gain an extra hour and must close at 2:30 a.m. regular Central Standard Time.

Q: Can an individual tavern owner bring a resale certificate into a grocery store and purchase alcohol/beer exempt from sales tax if their tavern ran out of an item?
A: No; as a licensed retailer, you may only purchase (and possess on your licensed premises) alcoholic beverages (spirits, wine, fermented malt beverages) from licensed Wisconsin wholesalers. The same holds true for cigarette purchases. You may only purchase from a Wisconsin distributor.

Q: If a resident wants to hold a wedding and reception at their home, can they get a picnic license so that they may sell beer at the wedding reception, as they think having free beer may lead people to be irresponsible?
A: There are no provisions for a picnic license except for bona fide clubs, etc. Suggest to the resident to stop serving free beer at a particular time of night and serve coffee, water, and other non-alcoholic beverages instead.

Q: Is it state law that the people I am in the company of, be carded as well as myself when purchasing alcohol from a store?
A: No, it is not a state law, but it may be the house policy of some stores to request an ID for all persons when one person is purchasing alcoholic beverages.

Wisconsin Bartending License certification course Q: When selling malt beverages, are they considered beer? And if so can they be sold after 9 p.m. in my store?
A: Fermented malt beverages are considered beer. Check your retail license, if it says, “For sale of Fermented Malt Beverages” you can sell these products. If you have a Class A Fermented Malt Beverage license, you may sell them until midnight, unless restricted by municipal ordinance. If the product is wine-based, you must have a liquor or wine license to sell them, and if wine it cannot be sold after 9 p.m. if you have a Class A liquor license.

Q: Can someone who holds a bartenders license and is 20 years old, close a bar at night if they are there alone?
A: Yes, if they are licensed as a bartender and have all of the rights/responsibilities associated with that license.

Q: Do you need a liquor license to sell liquor-filled candy?
A: No – The sale of liquor-filled confectionery products is illegal in the state of Wisconsin. Confectionary products that contain more than 0.5 percent of alcohol are considered adulterated and will be removed from sale.  These products may not be sold in liquor stores or any other location.

woman handing pint of beer to man at bar counter Q: Is there any type of educational or culinary exemption for sampling of alcoholic beverages by 18 to 20-year-old students? I have worked at universities in New York, Michigan, and North Carolina and all have had this exemption, along with almost every other state.
A: There is no such exemption in Wisconsin law, the premises must be licensed and regular consumption age laws apply.


Learn more about Wisconsin Alcohol Laws by taking our online Wisconsin Bartender License Course

25 Responses

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  3. Nick
    Can you privately sell a beverage you made containing alcohol to friends and family? i.e. apple pie in a jar
  4. Alyssa
    What’s the legality of giving away one free alcoholic drink to a patron (21+) in a commercial space? No alcohol/beer/wine is for sale on site. No purchase is necessary, limit to one drink, and they cannot leave the premises with said cocktail. Do I need to have a permit for that? Thank you!
  5. Lee Ann
    Can a bar in Wisconsin apply for an off-site permit to sell beer at another venue in Wisconsin?
    • Support
      When it comes to applying for a liquor license, generally they are purchased from the city clerk’s office in the town or city that you choose. Always consult them first before purchasing an establishment to sell or serve alcoholic beverages.
  6. Derrick Vanderaa
    How did the law regarding sales times come into being? Why a 6am start?
  7. Dana
    If I sell alcohol to someone that’s over 21, but someone in their party is not of age, who is liable if the underage person received that alcohol?
  8. Brianna
    Thinking about purchasing a small convenience store on our WI lake that sells alcohol. We will be looking to hire responsible people to help us run it. How old do the employees need to be to sell the alcohol? Is it different if it’s own of our own kids (she is 16)?
    • Tech Support
      Brianna, in Wisconsin, the minimum age to sell alcohol or serve it is 18 years old. Actually, in Wisconsin, a child of just about any age can legally drink alcohol as long as they are accompanied by their legal guardian. But, most local ordinances will trump the state laws and most will not allow it in their community. As far as working as an employee, by state law, they will still need to be 18 years old. But, the local ordinance may allow it though. Start by contacting the city clerk’s office in the town where the store is located. Only they can give you the true answer to your questions and, as a new owner, you will have to contact them for a liquor license to sell.
  9. Bob
    Do you need to have a license to sell non-alcoholic beer, wine or spirits in Wisconsin? My place of work chose to not obtain a license this year and possibly going forward, but we had the thought about non-alcoholic beer and adding it to our menu.
    • Tech Support
      That is a good question. Technically, even though NA beer is labeled as having no alcohol, there is a small amount of alcohol in each bottle or can. It’s about the same amount of alcohol as if you set a picture of orange juice (real, fresh, and not homogenized) aside for a couple of weeks in your fridge. This question could only be answered by the city clerk’s office in the town or city where your place of work resides. It’s easy to find your city clerk’s contact email and/or phone number online through a web search to ask them.
  10. Jennifer
    If you know someone is over 21 but they don’t have an ID on them, can you still legally serve them or is it against the law?
    • Tech Support
      In Wisconsin, yes, you can serve them alcohol. Ever state has different rules, regulations, and laws regarding the service of alcohol. So this is not true in all states. But, you must be absolutely sure they are over the age of 21.
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  12. Vince
    If a manager doesn’t have a bartenders license and is operating and doesn’t any employee with a license is that illegal? And if it is, is there a way to report it?
    • Tech Support
      The answer to your question about the manager and employees having a bartending license, depends on the state in which they are serving alcohol in. In Wisconsin, everyone who sells and/or serves alcoholic beverages must get Wisconsin alcohol certified. Each person must show the city clerk in the town where they are selling and serving alcohol their Wisconsin alcohol certification so they can get their bartender’s permit. Let the city clerk’s office know about the situation if you are certain that some or all the staff do not have their bartenders permit.
  13. Patrick
    I have sold my business in Wisconsin last week. The new owner does not have a liquor license yet. Can he open the business and sell products under my license until he receives his? He wants to open April 14, 2022. We would have licensed staff on premise.
    • Tech Support
      As for the new owner selling under your liquor license, in most case, absolutely not. But, that really depends on the city clerk in the town where your business is located. Only they can give you the correct response
  14. John
    Can I bring outside wine, beer, or alcohol into a brewery taproom? For example, if someone in our group doesn’t drink beer, can they bring in a bottle of wine (provided the establishment is okay with it)?
    • Tech Support
      Interesting question. For the state of Wisconsin, usually they don’t approve bringing alcohol into an alcohol serving establishment. But, the local ordinance where the brewery is located might me ok with it. The city clerks office where the brewery is located has the final say on issues like this. If the brewery knows well in advance about bringing alcohol into their establishment, it might be ok. Consult with them as they will know if the local ordinance will allow it or not.
  15. Doug Robertson
    Can I take a closed beer out of a bar?
    • Tech Support
      That’s a good question. The answer is it depends on your state laws and the local ordinances for where you are located. In general, just about every state will allow you take a beer or 6 pack out of the bar if they were never opened. If you had opened the beer, no, most states and ordinances would not allow it.
  16. Collin
    I just moved in with my step brother that is 21 and I am 18. Am I able to drink in Wisconsin?
    • Tech Support
      No. Back in 1984, WI raised the requirement to 19 years old. The year after that, they changed it to 21 years old like most of the US. So, sorry.