General Liquor Laws

During what hours can I sell or serve alcohol?
Alcohol can only be sold between 6 am and 2 am, and the business must be open to the general public. WAC 314-11-070

Can licensees or employees drink alcohol when the business is closed for the day?
No. The business must be open to the general public whenever alcohol is sold, served or consumed.  Off-Premises license types do not allow on-premises alcohol consumption other than what is provided under sampling rules. WAC 314-11-072

Does State law require ID checking when selling alcohol or tobacco?
No. ID checking is not required by state liquor laws but a valid card of identification must be presented by the holder if requested by any licensee or employee, peace officer, or enforcement officer of the board. RCW 66.20.180

Can I sell alcohol to a parent who is accompanied by a minor child?
If the customer shows no signs of intoxication, there is no law that prevents selling alcohol to someone 21 and over.  However, the store has the right to refuse service based on circumstances they observe so as not to take unnecessary risks and to help prevent alcohol being given to minors. WAC 314-16-150

Can a liquor licensee or an employee of the liquor licensed establishment possess a concealed weapon on the liquor licensed premises?
Yes. Licensees and employees may possess a concealed weapon while engaged in their employment. RCW 9.41.300 (10)

Can someone with a disability purchase, possess, or consume alcohol?
Yes. Persons with disabilities are allowed to purchase, possess, and consume alcohol under the same conditions as anyone else. The person must be 21 or over and not showing signs of intoxication. WAC 314-16-150

Are grocery stores required to bag alcohol products?
No. It is normally done as a courtesy just as other groceries are bagged.

What are the required signs for a Grocery Store or other off-premise licensed business?

  • Business license with appropriate endorsement
  • If the retailer is participating in the Responsible Vendor Program (RVP), the RVP certificate must be posted at main entry WAC 314-02-108 and WAC 314-02-1081
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) sign posted either at every point of sale, the entrance to the premises, or at each display of alcohol.
  • Tobacco warning sign posted at the check stand or cash register area if selling tobacco WAC 314-11-060

Is a liquor licensee responsible if their employees sell alcohol to someone under 21 years of age?
Yes. The holder of a liquor license is responsible for the acts of their employees. WAC 314-11-015 (1)

Am I responsible for the fights that happen in my business, including in the parking lot?
Yes. A liquor licensee is responsible for the licensed business and any area under their control. A licensee cannot allow any disorderly conduct in the licensed business or adjacent property which is owned or leased by the licensee.  WAC 314-11-015

Minor Employment and Duties

Is an employee under the age of 21 allowed to handle alcohol?
Employees 18, 19, and 20 years old may sell, stock and handle alcohol on a retail premises, as long as there is a supervisor 21 or older on store premises. WAC 314-11-040 There must be at least one 21 or older employee on site at a Grocery Store (selling beer and wine) and at least two employees 21 or older on site at a Spirits Retailer.

Is there an age requirement to help customers take their alcohol products to their car?
There are no liquor laws preventing an employee from taking alcohol to the vehicle as long as the customer is over 21. Labor laws would indicate age requirements for store employees.

Alcohol Sampling Requirements

May I give alcohol for free?
No. Retailers may not sell liquor below its acquisition cost. WAC 314-11-085 However, there are license types or endorsements that allow sampling-see below for types and requirements. Advertising of alcohol for free is not allowed WAC 314-52-110  

  • Requirements to provide alcohol sampling at a Beer and Wine Specialty Shop: WAC 314-02-105
  • Requirements to provide alcohol sampling at a Grocery Store: WAC 314-02-102
  • Requirements to provide alcohol tasting at a Spirits Retailers: WAC 314-02-106

What are the advertisement restrictions for tastings at a grocery store?
Signs advertising beer and wine tastings may not be placed in the windows or outside of the premises that can be viewed from the public right of way WAC 314-02-102(2)(b)

A licensee may advertise a tasting event only within the store, on a store web site, in store newsletters and flyers, and via e-mail and mail to customers who have requested notice of events. Advertising may not be targeted to or appeal principally to youth. RCW 66.24.363(6)

Apparently Intoxicated Customer

What does “apparently under the influence” mean?
If you see a person with two or more signs of intoxication, consider the person “apparently under the influence” and refuse sale.

Can an intoxicated person remain in a licensed premises?
Yes, as long as they are not allowed to consume, purchase and possess alcohol or are disorderly. WAC 314-16-150, WAC 314-11-015

Alcohol Impact Area

What is an Alcohol Impact Area?
The purpose of an Alcohol Impact Area is for local authorities to have a process to mitigate problems with chronic public inebriation or illegal activities linked to the sale or consumption of alcohol within a geographic area of their city, town or county, but not the entire jurisdiction. An Alcohol Impact Area is designated by geographical boundaries as defined in WAC 314-12-215.


Where can I find out more information regarding rules relating to advertising and “money’s worth” for the manufacturer, importer and wholesaler?

Responsible Vendor Program

Where can I find out more information regarding the Responsible Vendor Program?


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