Reference Number: 
CTAS-340

Once appointed, the county beer board may exercise the same discretion as the county legislative body to grant, deny, suspend or revoke permits to sell beer, and to impose civil penalties, within the limits of the authority granted by the statutes (and any distance rules or extended hours of operation which may have been established by resolution of the county legislative body).  In discussing the exercise of such discretion, the courts make no distinction between the county legislative body and the county beer board.  State ex rel. Simmons v. Latimer, 186 Tenn. 577, 212 S.W.2d 386 (1948).  However, the beer board is not authorized to establish distance rules or to extend the hours for the sale of beer; this authority may be exercised only by resolution of the county legislative body.  T.C.A. § 57-5-105.

The county legislative body is authorized to impose training or certification restrictions or requirements on employees of beer permit holders.  Only the county legislative body, and not the beer board, is authorized to impose these requirements. These requirements cannot be applied to any employee who holds a valid server permit issued by the ABC under Title 57, Chapter 3, Part 7 (the Alcohol Server Responsibility and Training Act of 1995).  T.C.A. § 57-5-105(j).  Once these requirements have been established by resolution of the county legislative body, the beer board has the authority to administer the provisions of the resolution within the limits of the authority granted by the resolution.  However, counties have no authority to impose a tax or fee on servers or sellers of beer, for training or for any other purpose, except as expressly provided by state law.  Attorney General Opinions U96-009 (2/8/96) and 97-077 (5/21/97).

A county beer board has the authority to conduct investigations of beer permit holders.  In an unpublished opinion of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the court found that a beer board was empowered to employ an undercover investigator after the county sheriff had refused to conduct an investigation concerning illegal sales of beer to minors.  Jackson v. Franklin County Beer Board, 1993 WL 46524 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1993).  Relying on this opinion, the Attorney General also opined that the beer board may hire a private investigatory firm to conduct undercover investigations concerning the sale of beer to minors, and that minors may be used in these investigations.  Attorney General Opinion 01-062 (4/20/01).