The 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution created a unique federal and state regulatory structure whereby beer and other alcoholic beverages are manufactured, distributed, and sold to consumers. Florida operates under such a structure, also known as the “three tier system.”
Florida’s Beverage Law makes it a second degree misdemeanor to manufacture, bottle, distribute, sell, or in any way deal in alcoholic beverages without first obtaining a license from the State. Section 562.12, Fla. Stat.
Florida’s three-tier system provides that licensees may only hold licenses within one tier of the system, either as a manufacturer, distributor, or vendor, although Florida law permits Florida wineries to hold a license in more than one tier. Section 561.14, Florida Statutes, provides that manufacturers of alcoholic beverages must be licensed as manufacturers. Distributors must be licensed and may purchase alcoholic beverages from manufacturers to sell to retail vendors only. A retail vendor must be licensed and may sell alcoholic beverages to consumers 21 years of age or older.
Florida’s Beverage Law prohibits any person from holding a license at any tier if he or she “has been convicted within the last past 5 years of any offense against the beverage laws of this state, the United States, or any other state; who has been convicted within the last past 5 years in this state or any other state or the United States of soliciting for prostitution, pandering, letting premises for prostitution, or keeping a disorderly place or of any criminal violation of chapter 893 or the controlled substance act of any other state or the Federal Government; or who has been convicted in the last past 15 years of any felony in this state or any other state or the United States ….” Section 561.15, Fla. Stat. That same prohibition applies to a corporation where any of its officers have been convicted of any of the offenses.