ABC Liquor License Revocation Hearing

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, in its discretion, may revoke or suspend a liquor license based on the acts of the employees at the licensed establishment if for good cause the continuance of such license would be contrary to public welfare and morals. (Bus. Prof. Code 24200[b])  This is an extremely concerning proposition since most illegal acts of an employee, such as selling drugs, are done without the knowledge of San Diego bar and restaurant business owners.

The Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control may use a range of progressive and proportional penalties at its discretion ranging from warning letters to license revocation.

The aggravating factors that may cause the ABC to impose a greater penalty for a violation may include, but are not limited to: prior disciplinary hearings or letters, business owner’s involvement in wrong doing, lack of cooperation of business owner, etc.  The following factors may mitigate the ABC’s penalty for a violation: i) length of time the business has been licensed without prior disciplinary problems, ii) positive actions by the licensee to correct the problem and iii) documentation of training of the businesses employees.

However, in instances of drug sales by an employee, the listed penalty is revocation. See ABC’s Penalty Guidelines.  It is also concerning that at a revocation hearing, the owner’s knowledge of the illegal sale is presumed if there are multiple documented sales. Therefore fighting such a revocation will rarely be accomplished by showing cooperating or requesting leniency for past bad behavior.

If you are subject to a liquor license revocation hearing by Department of Alcohol Beverage Control due to the illegal acts of one of your employees, your first action should be to contact competent counsel to defend you. Martinez & Schill can assist you in defending your business. Call for a free consultation at 619-512-5995.

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