New Guide Explains Basics of Alcohol Beverage Control

Roger B. Johnson, a 38-year veteran of the Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement Unit of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, today released a new guide, “Alcohol Beverage Control: The Basics for New State Alcohol Regulators.”

The publication was made possible in part by the Center for Alcohol Policy and can be found on the Center’s website.

Jim Hall, Center for Alcohol Policy advisor and former chairman of the National Traffic Safety Board, said, “This will be a useful guide for new alcohol regulators in every state, who are charged with enforcing their state’s alcohol laws, sometimes with very little resources. As an effective alcohol regulator for nearly 40 years, Roger Johnson knows what it takes to succeed in effectively and efficiently enforcing reasonable regulations that balance the sometimes competing demands of a competitive industry and the public’s health and safety.”

The report explains: “There is no national alcohol market. There are 50 different alcohol markets by constitutional design. Each state’s alcohol industry regulation evolved differently, although they all share concepts from the important work Toward Liquor Control by Raymond Fosdick and Albert Scott.”

It also describes several areas of alcohol beverage control and industry regulation universal to the states, including:

  • Preventing “tied-houses” or illegal benefits between various tiers of the industry that would harm fair competition
  • Ensuring public safety by penalizing underage or over-service of alcohol beverages
  • Protecting the state’s revenues by ensuring the strength of a regulatory system that has allowed the collection of excise taxes, while also protecting each state’s legitimate industry members by conducting inspections of licensed premises
  • Provide education and training to the industry, municipal officials, local law enforcement, advocacy groups, the media and the general public to help them learn about the legalities, their rights and responsibilities and ensure compliance with state alcohol beverage laws
  • Balance desires for a “free market economy” with the goal of promoting temperance

“Laws unenforced are laws unobserved,” Johnson concludes. “One can pass all the laws to regulate the various segments of the [alcohol beverage] industry effectively but, without adequate staffing to administer and enforce them, the end result is ‘no regulation.’ And ‘no regulation’ results in chaos for the public and the alcohol industry.”

Johnson adds, “The industry needs, and the public expects, ‘reasonable regulation’ to maintain the health and safety of society.”


Johnson is a past president of the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association and was named “Agent of the Year” in 1996. His “False I.D. Instruction” program received NLLEA’s Program of the Year Award in 1998. He also served as third vice president of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators.

Johnson will be among the presenters at the Eighth Annual CAP Alcohol Law and Policy Conference taking place September 9-11, 2015, at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. Additional details regarding the conference can be found at


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