Municipal Policies

Local government, cities, villages, towns & counties have the primary responsibility for alcohol regulation and enforcement in Wisconsin.

Municipal Inventory:  This tool guides a review of local polices to determine if what policies your community might already have that could improve the alcohol environment.

The following issue summaries examine the need for local action and compare the specific provisions of different municipal ordinances.

Alcohol Age Compliance Checks: It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to anyone under age 21, other than your own offspring or underage spouse.  Research has proven that regular compliance checks by law enforcement will reduce youth access to alcohol, preventing underage drinking. This paper examines how many Wisconsin communities conduct these operations. .  Alcohol age compliance checks and social host ordinances are complementary polices that reduce both the commercial and non-commercial (also called social) access to alcohol.

Advertising Scan of Class A Retailers:  Youth exposure to alcohol advertising is a proven factor in the age youth begin to drink (alcohol initiation) and if already drinking, how much alcohol youth consume.  This guide provides step-by-step directions for reviewing exterior alcohol advertising at retailers. Wisconsin specific directions and materials support exterior advertising scans from research and planning through the final report.

Public Impairment Ordinances in Wisconsin:  Unlike many other states, it is not illegal to be intoxicated in public.  Two campus communities took slightly different approaches to securing the safety of seriously impaired individuals. 

Sober Server Ordinances:  Many licensees prohibit or limit the amount of alcohol servers may consume.  Some communities have found that server impairment was a contributing factor in alcohol-related disorder and violence; sober server ordinances permit modest level of alcohol consumption while assuring servers are able to examine ID and maintain order within the establishment.

Social Host: In Wisconsin it is illegal for anyone age 18 or older to provide a location for underage drinking or fail to take steps to prevent underage drinking on property under their control. A summary of the policy and how it can be enforced locally reviews the topic in detail.

Underage Under the Influence Ordinances in Wisconsin:  Underage drinking is illegal in Wisconsin, but some communities found that youth legally drinking with a parents was not provided with appropriate parental supervision or other circumstances that left authorities without a tool similar to an underage drinking citation to deal with those circumstances.  Two Wisconsin communities found a simple and creative solution.

Pedal Pubs:  In 2014, the Wisconsin Legislature authorized “pedal pubs.”  Municipalities are able to take some steps to regulate the appearance of these vehicles on their streets.


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