A disciplinary proceeding is an administrative action the SLA takes against licensees who violate the ABC Law or Rules of the State Liquor Authority. The first step in this action is a Notice of Pleading which is sent to the licensee outlining the charges brought by the Authority. The Notice of Pleading contains the date of the offense, the section of ABC Law violated and the maximum penalty for the offense. The Notice of Pleading also provides a pleading date by which the licensee must enter a plea to the charge, either in person or in writing. The licensee can plead:
- no contest, which is a plea that provides the licensee an opportunity to make a statement as to any mitigating circumstances
- conditional no contest, which is a plea that allows the licensee to make an offer not to exceed a certain penalty to settle the charge
- not guilty, which, under due process, entitles the licensee to a civil hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, where testimony is taken from both parties.
Most violations of the ABC Law are crimes for which the police may make an arrest. While the Authority has no criminal jurisdiction, it can commence a disciplinary civil proceeding against the licensee for the same charge which involved the arrest. This is an administrative action, not double jeopardy, should the licensee be charged and convicted of a crime.
Violations of the ABC Law and the Rules of the Authority can result in the imposition of penalties against licensees. These penalties range from:
• CIVIL FINE
• BOND CLAIM
• A TWO YEAR PROSCRIPTION ON RELICENSING THE PREMISES
SUSPENSION – The right to buy or sell alcoholic beverages is taken away for a specified number of days.
CANCELLATION – The license is taken away, but there are no time restrictions on reapplying for another license.
REVOCATION – The license to sell alcoholic beverages is taken away and the revoked licensee or any person who has an interest in a revoked license cannot hold a license or have an interest in any premises where alcoholic beverages are sold for two years. The SLA may also deny a new license at that same location for two years.
CIVIL FINE – A monetary penalty of up to $10,000 per violation may be imposed.
BOND CLAIM – A claim for payment is made against the bond filed with the license application.
When the facts constituting a violation do not warrant one of the previously mentioned penalties, the SLA can issue a letter warning the licensee against the recurrence of the questionable activity. These include:
- an adjudicated letter of warning directed by the Members of the Authority, which notes that the licensee has committed a violation but only a warning is warranted by the circumstances
- a letter of advice, which is sent when the Authority is notified of an arrest or other violation under circumstances which do not warrant institution of disciplinary proceedings. In such instance, the Authority’s Enforcement Bureau cautions the licensee to guard against a recurrence of the incident.
GOOD RECORD – A good record consists of a continuous licensing period of 60 months with no adjudicated violations. An adjudicated letter of warning affects a good record, but a letter of advice does not. The Members of the Authority consider a licensee’s record in determining penalties. A good record may result in a lesser fine or penalty.
Please be aware that all penalties are at the discretion of the Members of the State Liquor Authority.