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Beer and Wine Laws Loosely Enforced

From Oct. 7, 2008, when the Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved the first beer and wine licenses for restaurants in the county, until Jan. 1 of this year, compliance with two key provisions of the beer and wine ordinance was entirely on the honor system.

The county simply assumed that the percentage of sales from beer and wine by each license holder was not more than 25 percent of total sales in the individual restaurant and that each sale of an alcoholic beverage in the restaurant also included “a reasonable order of a meal or appetizer.”

Starting with renewal applications for this year, license holders were required to fill out a form listing their gross income from total sales, the gross income from the sale of beer and wine, and the resulting percentage of income from beer and wine sales.

Those reports have never been checked by an independent audit, and the county still does not try to document that alcoholic beverages are sold only with an order of a meal or an appetizer.

The county has never made any secret of its reliance on the license holder to self-police compliance with these key provisions.

These provisions and compliance procedures are topics the county will have to grapple with if citizens on Nov. 4 pass a referendum allowing for the sale of liquor by the drink in addition to beer and wine in county restaurants.

To continue reading, visit Oconee County Observations.