Hobbled by a corruption investigation, the State Liquor Authority is taking longer than ever to issue liquor licenses, and restaurateurs and bar owners are paying a heavy price. It used to be common practice for diners to bring their own wine or beer while restaurateurs waited for the bureaucracy to finish its business, but in March the SLA warned license applicants they could be rejected if caught letting customers imbibe. Warren Pesetsky, a lawyer who represents many applicants and was the SLA's general counsel from 1976 to 1981, tells the Times, "They are taking longer than they ever have to approve new applications. When things were working at their best several years ago, it took three months." Employees at the SLA's Harlem office are under investigation by the state Inspector General for possibly taking bribes to expedite license applications. No one has been charged yet, but a lawyer for the state restaurant association thinks the investigation has a chilling effect on the 9 license examiners in Harlem: "Everyone there is afraid if they cough, they might get investigated." Meanwhile, new restaurants are having a hard time hanging on until the license is approved, which now takes over seven months in some cases.