Do you have questions about what you can and can’t do related to happy hour? You’re not alone.
Virginia ABC special agents frequently get questions about happy hour rules and regulations. We understand that it can seem confusing.
This summary of happy hour regulations is meant for general guidance only. To be sure you have all the details regarding happy hour, you should read the full regulation in 3 VAC 5-50-160.
It’s important for licensees to maintain a regular, proactive relationship with your special agent. If you have specific questions about conducting happy hour or language used to promote happy hour, please contact your special agent.
“Happy hour” is defined as a specified period of time during which alcoholic beverages are sold at prices reduced from the customary price established by a retail licensee.
- Happy hour may not be conducted between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.
- Restaurants may only use one of two phrases for promotions: “happy hour” or “drink specials.”
- Businesses may promote the time span of their happy hour, and may list specific drink types and brands.
- Restaurants may promote drink specials on flyers, posters, social media, their website and in advertisements.
- External promotion (outside of the business) of happy hour prices and discount amounts is restricted.
- Two-for-one drink specials are illegal.
Be certain all employees know the rules regarding happy hour and adhere to the 9 p.m. deadline for selling drinks at a reduced price. The licensee could incur violations if staff let a customer “slide in a little late.”
Revised July 31, 2017