Bill would allow 14-year-olds in Wisconsin to serve alcohol

By: - May 2, 2023 4:14 am

Customers eat and drink at the Brat Stop, in Kenosha, Wis. on May 15, 2020. (Scott Olson | Getty Images)

Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 would be allowed to serve alcohol to seated bar and restaurant customers in Wisconsin, under a bill being circulated by two Republican lawmakers. 

Under current state law, restaurant and bar employees must be 18 or older and under the supervision of a licensed employee to serve alcoholic beverages. Co-authors Sen. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) and Rep. Chanz Green (R-Grandview) said the law causes issues because an establishment’s underage employees are only able to do part of their job.

“Wisconsin is already having severe workforce shortage issues, specifically in the food and beverage industry,” the co-sponsorship memo states. “This bill creates a simple solution to this problem by allowing minors from the age of 14-17 to serve alcohol beverages to their seated customers.” 

The minimum age to work in a restaurant in Wisconsin is 14. Those under the age of 16 require a work permit to legally work and are restricted from performing certain tasks including serving alcohol, cooking over an open flame and using heavy bakery equipment or manual deep fryers. 

If passed and signed into law, Wisconsin would be the only state to allow minors that young to serve alcohol. Only two states allow employees under the age of 18 to serve alcohol, according to the National Institutes of Health. Maine allows 17-year-olds to serve alcohol, and West Virginia allows those as young as 16 to serve alcohol. 

The bill would not allow those under 18 to serve customers sitting at the bar, and a licensed employee would still need to supervise unlicensed employees.


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Baylor Spears
Baylor Spears

Baylor Spears is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner. She’s previously written for the Minnesota Reformer and Washingtonian Magazine. A Tennessee-native, she graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern University in June 2022.