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Happy hour is regulated by statute in the state of Illinois, but that's changing.

Posted by Steven H. Fagan | Jul 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

The state of Illinois is one of 16 states, which uses laws to regulate happy hour promotions in an effort to stop driving under the influence (DUI) and to promote public safety. However, this method has come at a steep economic price to local businesses, and now, Governor Rauner has signed a bill allowing the return of happy hour, with some restrictions. 

The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis focus on legal defense in the state of Illinois, including driving under the influence (DUI) at courthouses in Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County.

Illinois is not alone in restricting happy hour

Some sort of restrictions on what sort of promotions sellers of alcohol may conduct are in place in 32 states. In most cases, reduction in DUI offenses and criminal activity is clearly the aim. Of those states, 12 do not allow any period in which alcoholic beverages are sold for a reduced price. Some states prohibit any practices which would encourage the excess consumption of alcohol, while some states do not permit vendors to offer alcoholic beverages at a reduced price at any time.

In the state of Illinois happy hours have, until recently, been outright prohibited by statute.

"All retail licensees shall maintain a schedule of the prices charged for all drinks of alcoholic liquor to be served and consumed on the licensed premises or in any room or part thereof. Whenever a hotel or multi-use establishment which holds a valid retailer's license operates on its premises more than one establishment at which drinks of alcoholic liquor are sold at retail, the hotel or multi-use establishment shall maintain at each such establishment a separate schedule of the prices charged for such drinks at that establishment."

Restrictions are established by statute

Illinois now will permit four hours daily and up to 15 hours weekly of happy hour. Other restrictions exit such as those governing advertisement of the promotion and the allowable terms - two-for-one specials are still off the proverbial table. The aim remains focussed on discouraging DUI while easing restrictions on businesses like bars. 

A sampling of other states regarding happy hours

In other states, free drinks or two-for-one specials are prohibited. Also, establishment-sponsored drinking games are banned, as well as a limit to the amount of alcohol that a single person may possess at one time. Most states provide an exception for private events, such as open bars at weddings. There are other states that place limits on happy hours, while not completely banning them.

The states take one of three approaches to restrict happy hours, but do not ban them. One restriction involves the time when drinks can be sold for a reduced price. Another approach is to limit the discount that may be placed on drinks. Also, promotions where people pay a flat fee for unlimited drinks are not allowed.

And, there are other states that limit the time of day when drinks may be offered for reduced prices or they set how much time each day when specials may be offered. Additionally, discounts of more than half price are prohibited, while other states mandate that drinks must be sold at a price that is no lower than purchase cost of the beverage.

Two different methods for controlling happy hours

Some states use administrative codes to limit happy hour practices while states such as Illinois have restrictions in state laws. Those states that us administrative codes manage happy hour issues through their state's alcoholic beverage commissions.

If you face criminal or DUI charges in the Chicago area and are looking for the right lawyer, contact us now for a free consultation.

About the Author

Steven H. Fagan

Steve Fagan earned his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, is a member of the NCDD, NACDL, ISBA and a founding member of the DUIDLA. He is published and has taught CLE for lawyers on subjects such as sex offenses, DUI and criminal defense, focuses on trial work and Real Estate closings


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