Do police officers have to get a search warrant to look through my licensed premises?
Agents from the Department of Revenue, the Department of Justice, and local law enforcement can inspect the licensed premises to confirm that taxes are paid and alcohol beverage laws are followed. An inspection covers the entire premises covered by the license and includes all places where alcohol beverages, cigarettes, and tobacco products are stored. Officers may also inspect places where business records are kept. If the law
enforcement officers are inspecting for other reasons, they may need a warrant. Consult your attorney for guidance.
When can officers and agents inspect?
Officers and agents may inspect "at all reasonable hours." This means the hours when the place is open for business and other hours if the place is open, operating, or occupied. (secs. 134.65(4), 139.08(4), 139.39(2) Wis. Stat.)
What will happen if I refuse to allow officers or agents to inspect?
Wisconsin law makes refusal to allow inspection of licensed premises grounds for revoking or suspending your license. It is also a misdemeanor crime. (secs. 125.12, 139.08(2), 139.25(10) Wis. Stat.)
What will officers or agents look for when they inspect?
Officers or agents will confirm that taxes are paid and alcohol beverage laws are followed. Department of Revenue Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement agents will make sure that licenses and permits are current and properly posted, that the premises is legally supervised, that invoices are on-premises and in order, that invoices cover stock on hand, that underage or intoxicated persons are not present, and that a variety of other requirements are being followed. At the conclusion of the inspection, they will answer questions, provide education and resources. If necessary, they may confiscate alcohol beverages, cigarettes, tobacco products, or related items that are kept in violation of the law.
Can I bring liquor, fermented malt beverage, or wine into Wisconsin from another state or another country?
As a general rule no. But if you qualify for one or more of the exceptions under secs. 139.03(5), or 125.535 Wis. Stats., you may be eligible to bring a limited amount of alcohol beverages into Wisconsin.
- If you are moving from another state or country to Wisconsin, you may bring liquor or wine into Wisconsin as part of your household goods.
- If you have spent at least 48 hours in another country, you may carry up to 4 liters of liquor or wine in sealed containers into Wisconsin. It must be in your personal possession. You may not send or ship it into Wisconsin.
- If you were on military duty for at least 48 hours in another country, you may bring up to 16 liters of liquor or wine into Wisconsin.
- You may receive up to 108 liters of wine in a calendar year shipped to you from a wine direct shipper who is permitted with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. The wine must be for personal consumption only and may not be resold. See
Wisconsin Liquor Permit Listing for a list of wine direct shipper permittees.
How does the Department of Revenue dispose of seized alcohol beverages?
Contraband alcohol beverages will either be sold or destroyed, if unfit for sale. Alcohol beverages are sold through a sealed bid auction to permittees or licensees that are authorized to resell that product. Proceeds from a sale of alcohol beverages benefit the Wisconsin common school fund.
What should I do if I witness or have information on a potential violation of alcohol beverages laws?
The appropriate agency to report potential violations to likely depends on the nature of the violation. Complaints may be referred to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue by completing
this form. Contact your local law enforcement agency to refer a complaint there.
What happens after I submit a complaint to the Department of Revenue?
All complaints of alcohol beverage violations submitted to the Department of Revenue are referred to an Excise Tax Agent (Special Agent) for review. That agent may investigate the issue themselves, or work with other law enforcement agencies to address the issue. Agents do not share details or give status updates for ongoing investigations. Agents may contact you to ask questions or gather more information about the nature of the violation if you choose to provide contact information.
What is the Department of Revenue's role in video gambling machine law enforcement?
The Department of Revenue is the sole agency with the authority to investigate and enforce violations of 5 or fewer video gambling machines on a Class "B" or "Class B" (tavern, bar) premises. The Department of Revenue, and other state and local law enforcement agencies, may investigate and enforce video gambling machine violations in other locations, regardless of the type of business.
How do I become an Excise Tax Agent (Special Agent) at the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Unit?
Employment opportunities are posted on the
Wisc.jobs website. Search by state agency, city, or keyword to narrow your search to the positions right for you.