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Local Government Resource Desk


Alcohol Beverage Control


Regulation and control of alcohol in small rural Alaskan communities presents several unique challenges. A major factor in these challenges is that most communities are relatively isolated and lack extensively developed law enforcement or health care facilities. To help deal with these challenges, the Alaska State Legislature has enacted laws to provide ways for communities to regulate alcohol use and control the availability of alcohol in the community.


Under the provisions of AS 04.11.491, voters in a community may choose a local option to control availability and sale of alcohol in one of several manners outlined in state law. The local option statute provides five options that residents of a municipality may vote on; the residents of an established village may choose from four options. The key difference is that a municipality may limit the sale of alcohol to premises operated by the municipality. The options provided in Title 4 to a municipalityare:

  • A ban on sale;
  • A ban on sale, except by a type of licensee listed on the ballot and authorized in statute;
  • A ban on sale, except by premises operated by a municipality;
  • A ban on sale and importation; and
  • A ban on sale, importation, and possession.

In a community that has not adopted a local option, the local governing body may still regulate alcohol in the community through other provisions of law. How this occurs is discussed in detail later in this chapter.

In July 2003, Executive Order 110 transferred administration of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board from Department of Revenue to Department of Public Safety. The regulations are now found in Title 13 instead of Title 15.

The laws on enacting a local option are sometimes difficult to interpret, partly because they incorporate the provisions of Title 4, Title 15, and Title 29, plus various federal and local laws. To ensure the correct interpretation of the law being implemented, contact the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, the State's Division of Elections, as well as the Division of Community and Regional Affairs assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the procedure for adopting a local option?

A local option is adopted under the state's local option election procedure found in AS 04.11.507 - .509. The process varies some, depending on whether the option is being adopted within the boundaries of an incorporated municipality or an established village. In both cases, the process involves a petition filed with the appropriate authority to initiate the process and an election on the question if the petition gets the appropriate number of good signatures.

Title 4 directs that upon receipt of a petition containing signatures of registered voters equal to or more than 35 percent of the number of votes cast at the last regular municipal election or, in the case of an established village, 35 percent or more of the registered voters residing within the village, the appropriate entity will place on a separate ballot whichever local option action is the subject of the petition.

In a municipality the election is conducted under the municipality's regular or special election ordinance, the municipal election statutes found in AS 29.26.110 - 160, and the procedure spelled out in Title 4. In the case of an established village, a special election is conducted under the provisions of the state's election statute found in Alaska Statutes Title 15 and administered by the lieutenant governor's office.

See the LOGON chapters on 'Elections' to the left under 'LOGON Links' for additional information on conducting a local option election.

What is the procedure for changing or removing a local option?

The same procedure used to enact a local option is used to change or remove a local option. A local option cannot be removed or changed to a less restrictive option within 12 months of the date of adoption, nor can an option question be put to the vote more than once in an 18-month period, AS 04.11.507(f). Also, in a municipality a new petition may not be filed on the same matter sooner than six months after a petition is rejected (AS 29.26.160).

In addition to the local option process, are there other methods for regulating alcohol?

Both Title 4 and Title 29 authorize regulation of alcohol. Under AS 04.11.480 a local governing body may protest the issuance, renewal, relocation, transfer, or continued operation of a license or recommend conditions to be placed on the license (The board must provide notice of an application within 10 days of receiving it (AS 04.11.520)). In addition, AS 04.11.491(f) authorizes a municipality or established village, that has adopted a local option to prohibit or limit sale of alcohol, to further control alcohol by designating a site for delivery of alcohol in amounts over one liter of distilled spirits, two liters of wine, or one gallon of malt beverage.

AS 04.21.010 authorizes a municipality to enact ordinances governing importation, barter, sale, consumption, and possession consistent with the provisions of Title 4 and clarifies that an ordinance is not inconsistent if it limits: the monthly amounts that may be imported, the percent of alcohol that a beverage may contain, and the type of container that may be possessed. AS 29.35.080 also authorizes a municipality to regulate as authorized in Title 4 through protest or adoption of a local option and municipal ordinance.

Is it legal to make "home brew"?

AS 04.21.015 addresses private manufacture of alcohol. In communities that have exercised their option to control alcohol through the local option process, whichever local option is in place for the community applies to manufacture of alcohol within the jurisdiction of the community. AS 04.21.015 exempts private manufacture of alcohol from the provisions of Title 4, except in communities that have adopted a local option or in cases where the amount manufactured exceeds the limits allowed under federal regulation. Federal regulation 27 CFR 25.205 imposes limits on the amount of homemade alcohol that can be legally manufactured.

What is the boundary of the area that is subject to the local option?

A municipality has jurisdiction within its municipal boundary and can enforce a local option within that boundary. Within an established village, the local option enacted by the community may be enforced within a 5-mile radius of the Post Office or, if there is no Post Office, within 5-miles of a point designated by the governing body or ABC Board if there is no established village or the perimeter does not accurately reflect the boundary of the established village (AS 04.11.508).

If a municipality that has enacted a local option dissolves, is the local option still in effect?

Yes. If a municipality dissolves, a local option remains in effect for an established village within the area encompassed by the previous municipal boundary; however, a license for premises operated by the municipality expires when the municipality dissolves (AS 04.11.491(e)).

Does a municipality have to pass a local option in order to run a municipal liquor store?

No. AS 04.11.505 requires a municipality obtain a license if a majority of the voters vote to prohibit the sale of alcohol except on premises operated by the municipality; however, subsection (b) states, "nothing in this section precludes a municipality from applying to be a licensee under other provisions of this title."

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Who is responsible for enforcing a community's local option law?

State troopers and state courts have jurisdiction to enforce local option laws. Title 29 provides municipalities with the power to enforce local ordinances and to prescribe penalties for the violation of ordinances (AS 29.35.010(7)). AS 29.20.250 and AS 29.20.500 vest the mayor and manager with the duty and responsibility to supervise the enforcement of municipal law.

If a local police officer is not available, the mayor or manager is a peace officer as defined in AS 01.10.060(a)(7)(F) and AS 11.81.900(b)(43) and is authorized to take actions necessary to maintain the public peace.

Peace Officer definitions

According to AS 01.10.060(a)(7), "peace officer" means:

  1. an officer of the state troopers;
  2. a member of the police force of a municipality;
  3. a village public safety officer;
  4. a regional public safety officer;
  5. a United States marshal or deputy marshal; and
  6. an officer whose duty it is to enforce and preserve the public peace

According to AS 11.81.900(b)(43), "peace officer" also means a public servant vested by law with a duty to maintain public order or to make arrests, whether the duty extends to all offenses or is limited to a specific class of offenses or offenders.

Can a municipality impose a fine for a violation of a local option law?

Yes. A local option law is a local law and the local governing body may impose a penalty for violation of its law. State law AS 29.25.070 authorizes a governing body to impose a penalty for a violation of a municipal ordinance and AS 04 21.010(b) authorizes a municipality to adopt an ordinance making the sale, importation, or possession of alcoholic beverages a misdemeanor to the extent prohibited under the local option.

Note: Penalties may be imposed only if copies of the ordinances are made available to the public at no more than cost.

Can a municipality tax alcoholic beverages?

Yes, but under certain conditions. If a municipality imposes a property tax and/or sales tax, it may tax alcohol the same as other property and sales are taxed. Under AS 04.21.010(c), a municipality may not impose taxes on alcoholic beverages, except a property tax on alcoholic beverage inventories, sales tax on alcoholic beverage sales if sales taxes are imposed on other sales within the municipality, or sales tax on alcoholic beverage sales that was in effect before July 1, 1985.

When does a local option or change in local option go into effect?

There are different effective dates, depending on what local option activity has occurred and whether there are licensed premises in the community. Following is a synopsis:

  • If a change approved by the voters removes a local option previously in effect, the change is effective the first day of the month following certification of the election (AS 04.11.495(a)).
  • If the local option imposes a ban on sale, a ban on sale and importation, or a ban on sale, importation, and possession , or a ban on sale except by type of license listed on the ballot, in a community in which licensed alcohol sales have previously occurred, the license is void 90 days after certification of the election (AS 04.11.497, AS 04.11.503 and AS 04.11.505).
  • If the local option bans importation, the ban is effective on the first day of the month following certification of the election, with the exception of sacramental wine used for bona fide religious purposes (AS 04.11.499).
  • If the local option bans possession of alcohol, and there are licensed premises in the community, the ban is effective 90 days after certification of the election. If there are no licensed premises, the ban is effective 60 days after certification. (AS 04.11.501(b)).

(In the case of adoption of a ban on possession, AS 04.11.501 provides that upon adoption of a local option banning possession, an ordinance is adopted containing the provisions of this section.)

If a local option is adopted, who needs to be notified?

As soon as the law passes, the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board must be notified of the outcome of the election. In the case of a municipality, the municipal clerk is responsible for providing this notice and in an established village, the Lieutenant Governor's office provides notice to the ABC Board. The ABC Board is then responsible for providing notice to Department of Law, Department of Public Safety, and all package store licensees who sell in response to a written solicitation. The local governing body is responsible for posting notice of a prohibition in a central location in the community (AS 04.11.509(a)).

Information about the local alcohol policy should always be posted in the community to remind community members and visitors what the rules are. The local governing body should also notify local air carriers and other transport/shipping services that have or may do business with community members.

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Additional Resources


Recommended web site search topics:

  • Alcohol Beverage Control Board
  • Alaska Department of Public Safety
  • State Division of Elections
  • Lieutenant Governor's Office
Applicable Laws and Regulations

Federal regulations

  • 27 CFR 25.205 Federal regulation of home made alcohol.

Alaska Statutes

  • AS 01.10.060(a)(7)(F) Definition of peace officer.
  • AS 04.06.020 Appointment of ABC board.
  • AS 04.06.090 Powers and duties of the board.
  • AS 04.11.010 License requirement for sale, manufacture, barter, solicitation or delivery within local option area, prosecution, presumption of sale quantities.
  • AS 04.11.015 Prohibition against alcohol purchase from non-licensee, violation.
  • AS 04.11.020 Exceptions, license or permit not required.
  • AS 04.11.150 Package store license, limits on amounts of alcohol that may be shipped to a local option community.
  • AS 04.11.310 Notice of application for new license.
  • AS 04.11.320-.360 Denial of new license or permit in community with no prior license or authorizing local option election, effect of local option election on denial or approval, public interest finding, denial of license or permit renewal, denial of request for relocation, denial of permit transfer.
  • AS 04.11.460 Approval of issuance or renewal of license within 50 mile radius of municipal boundary.
  • AS 04.11.470 Objection to issuance, renewal, or transfer of license; protest by local governing body or permanent residents, timeline for submitting comments, recommendation on license conditions, condition compliance monitoring, notification of violation.
  • AS 04.11.491 Local options, ban on sale, ban on sale exceptions, ban on importation, ban on possession, ballot question language and summary explanation, continued effect of local option, operation of municipal delivery site and quantity limitations.
  • AS 04.11.493-.495 Change of local option, ballot question language, repeal of local option, ballot question language, effective date, applicant/licensee priority.
  • AS 04.11.497 Effect of sale prohibition on licenses, affected boundaries, effective date.
  • AS 04.11.499 Effect of importation prohibition, effective date, exceptions.
  • AS 04.11.501 Effect of possession prohibition, effective date, ordinance adoption, definition of possession.
  • AS 04 11.503 Effect of sale restriction, affected boundaries, exceptions, effective date.
  • AS 04.11.505 Licensure of municipal operation, affected boundaries, effective date.
  • AS 04.11.507 Local option election procedure.
  • AS 04.11.508 Perimeter of established village.
  • AS 04.11.509 Notice of election results after election, responsibility for notification, parties to be noticed, additional mandatory notice of ban on importation or possession.
  • AS 04.11.510 Running of clock on municipal comment period, hearing location, hearing notice, comment by residents outside municipal or established village boundary, board action for violation of a municipal ordinance.
  • AS 04.11.520-.525 Notice of receipt of application to local governing body, time for providing notice, notice to community council.
  • AS 04.11.540 License renewal and expiration.
  • AS 04.11.560 Appeal.
  • AS 04.16.010 Municipal regulation of hours of operation.
  • AS 04.16.070 Municipal regulation of sales on election day.
  • AS 04.16.125 Transportation of alcohol into a local option area, contents labeling on shipping container, itemized invoice showing quantity, exceptions, definition of common carrier.
  • AS 04.16.170 Limitation on alcohol sales except by licensee.
  • AS 04.16.200 Unlicensed person, penalty/fining schedule for violation conviction.
  • AS 04.16.205 Penalty for violating ban on possession, fine limits, alcohol seizure, community work in lieu of fine, establishment of bail schedule by supreme court, assignment and hourly rate for community work, proof of performance of community work, prohibition against criminal prosecution for possession, provision of standard citation form by commissioner of public safety and adoption by municipality.
  • AS 04.16.220 Items subject to forfeiture for violation of alcohol control laws, court order for seizure and exceptions to court order requirement, reasonable notice of property subject to seizure and forfeiture, disposition of forfeited property.
  • AS 04.21.010 Municipal regulation, municipal ordinance, restrictions on percentage of alcohol limitation, prohibition on alcohol beverage tax and exceptions, prior notice and hearing on municipal action on alcohol application.
  • AS 04.21.015 Private manufacture of alcohol, applicability and exceptions.
  • AS 04.21.070 Enforcement, peace officer.
  • AS 04.21.080 Definitions.
  • AS 11.81.900(b)(43) Definition of peace officer.
  • AS 12.55.039(a)(4)  Surcharge imposed for collection of fine in addition to fine amount.
  • AS 12.25.180 Issuance of citation.
  • AS 29.20.250 Powers and duties of mayor.
  • AS 29.20.500 Powers and duties of municipal manager.
  • AS 29.25.010-.020 Acts required to be by ordinance, ordinance procedure.
  • AS 29.25.070-.075 Penalties, limitations, disposition without court appearance, fine schedule, ordinance copies available to the public and exception for ban on possession, enforcement of action against a minor, hearing officer, surcharge, court collection of penalties, collection fees.
  • AS 29.26.110 Application for petition.
  • AS 29.26.130 Petition signatures.
  • AS 29.26.140 Sufficiency of petition, rejection of petition.
  • AS 29.26.150 Protest, time line.
  • AS 29.26.160 New petition , time line.
  • AS 29.35.010 Municipal authority to enforce ordinances, prescribe penalty.
  • AS 29.35.020 Extraterritorial jurisdiction.
  • AS 29.35.080 Municipal authority to regulate as authorized in title 4 through protest or adoption of local option and municipal ordinance.

Alaska Administrative Code

  • 13 AAC 104.145-.150 Local governing body protest to license, review and comment timeline, protest form and content, applicant notice and hearing on protest, protest for delinquent taxes, board action on protest or objection, hearing, appeal.
  • 13 AAC 104.505 Board's investigative personnel powers.
  • 13 AAC 104.535 Suspension and revocation of license.
  • 13 AAC 104.540 Civil fine.
  • 13 AAC 104.625 Responsibility for list of local option communities.
  • 13 AAC 104 645 Payment delivery shipping and packaging of alcohol, invoice retention by municipality.

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Revised 12/30/2014