There’s a lot of law in your cup of Christmas cheer |

There’s a lot of law in your cup of Christmas cheer

Rohn Robbins
Vail, CO, Colorado

As with so much of our lives, laws and regulations lurk even in that glass of Christmas wassail. And as the holidays settle in, let’s pause for a moment to consider some of the laws applying to your holiday libations.

The manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic liquors are regulated by the Colorado Liquor Code. Similarly, the manufacture, distribution and sale of fermented malt beverages are regulated by the Colorado Beer Code.

Municipalities such as Vail can regulate the retail sale of liquor and beer, but not its manufacture, distribution or wholesaling. In general, local licensing authorities consider applications for nine different types of liquor licenses.

Each application approved by a municipality is submitted to the state licensing authority. If the local licensing authority approves a retail license application, the state authority may still deny. If the municipality denies the license, the state authority will not overrule the municipality.

Upon receipt of an application by the local authority, a public hearing is scheduled. Public notice of the hearing is posted, and not less than five days prior to the hearing date, the local licensing authority must provide to the applicant and “other interested parties” the findings of its investigation.

At the public hearing, any “party in interest” may present evidence and cross-examine witnesses either in favor or in opposition to the application.

An application for a liquor license cannot not be approved in several cases, including if the application is for the same location for which a license was denied within the last two years or if the premises is within a specified distance from a school.

Certain classes of persons may not be issued a liquor license including police officers, prosecutors, or any person who is not of “good moral character.”

Once approved, liquor and beer licenses must be renewed annually, but the scrutiny of renewal is much less rigorous than the initial application. Unless there appears to be some cause for denial of the renewal, no hearing is required. Of course, license fees must be paid with each renewal.

So when you hoist that mug of grog or dram of your favorite libation, remember the right to sell it didn’t come cheap or easy. Remember too, to drink responsibly and… drive safely this holiday season.

The best of the holidays to all.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 926-4461 or by e-mail at

Support Local Journalism