Liquor License Inspections

Every year, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection issue thousands of liquor licenses to business owners. Once a license is issued, business owners can expect periodic inspections of their business establishments. While some of these inspections are scheduled, others are unannounced. Business owners who fail to pass these inspections can face fines or revocation of their liquor licenses. However, business owners should understand that even if they are found to be in violation of state or city laws, they can seek review of their case.

For instance, in 59th & State Street Corp. v. Emanuel, a liquor store owner sought review by the Illinois First District Appellate Court after a Chicago City task conducted an unannounced inspection of his liquor store. Although the court upheld the fine and license revocation against the business owner, the court established that inspections conducted at liquor establishments cannot be performed unless they are “undertaken for specific purposes… [limited] in time, place, and scope.” See 59th & State Street Corp. v. Emanuel, 2016 IL App (1st) 153098. With this decision, the court made it clear that business owners have the right to be placed on notice as to when their property will be subject to periodic inspections and these inspections must be limited in time, place, and scope.

The court’s decision may affect the manner in which local municipalities regulate business owners with liquor licenses. The attorneys at Tristan & Cervantes have extensive experience in business licensing and can assist business owners in understanding their responsibilities and rights under Illinois law. Please contact our office via email at or call us at 312.345.9200 with questions.