SLA Violations & Disciplinary Proceedings Are You a Liquor Licensee Trying to Avoid Common Pitfalls?
In New York, the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) within the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA). The SLA is the issuing body for liquor licenses and is the enforcement body for the rules governing the conduct of licensees. The most common violations of the ABC Law issued by the SLA to retail licensees include the following:
- Sale to Minor (under 21 years old) (Section 65.1);
- Sale to Intoxicated Person (Section 65.2);
- Prohibited Hours of Sale (Sections 105.(a); 105.14; 106.5);
- Prohibited Hours of Consumption (Section 106.5);
- Employment of a Minor (Section 100.2(a));
- Disorderly Premises (Section 106.6);
- Gambling at establishments (Section 106.6);
- Narcotics at establishments (Section 106.6); and
- Service outside without a valid Sidewalk Café Permit.
When you or your licensed establishment is charged with a violation, you will receive a Notice of Pleading that outlines the alleged violations. At this point, you have three plea options, including:
- “Not Guilty”, in which case a hearing date is scheduled before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ);
- “No Contest”, which means that the licensee waives the right to a hearing and the case is sent directly to the Members of the Authority to make a final determination of the appropriate penalty. A No Contest plea is automatically entered if you fail to respond the Notice of Pleading; or
- “Conditional No Contest”, which means that the licensee “conditions” his or her offer of a no contest plea on the Members of the Authority accepting a penalty proposed by the licensee. If rejected, a hearing will be scheduled to review the violation.
The administrative hearing is your opportunity to defend yourself against the alleged license violation. At the hearing, which is presided over by an administrative law judge (ALJ), the SLA and the licensee may produce witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and submit evidence in support of their case. At the conclusion of the evidence, findings are made by the ALJ and presented to the Members of the Authority. These findings are not final. Rather, the findings are treated as a recommendation to the Members of the Authority who make the final determination.
If a disciplinary charge is sustained, the Members of the Authority may impose one or more of the following penalties:
- Suspension: prohibits consumption or sale of alcoholic beverages for a designated period.
- Summary Suspension - under the State Administrative Procedure Act, a State agency is authorized to summarily suspend a license when the agency finds that public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action.
- Cancellation: terminates the license, but does not ban the licensee from applying for a license for two years.
- Revocation: terminates the license and bans the licensee from holding any liquor license for two years.
- Monetary Penalty: a fine that may be levied against the licensee with or as an alternative to a revocation, cancellation, or suspension.
- Bond Forfeiture: a claim made against the licensee’s surety bond.
If you are facing an alleged license violation, it is vital that you attend your violation hearing prepared to make your best case. Hiring a liquor licensing attorney to represent your company or establishment is strongly recommended. An experienced attorney will help you prepare all relevant evidence and witnesses that support your case and give you the best chance of a favorable finding by the ALJ.
The attorneys at Korngut Paleudis LLC have years of experience handling SLA violation hearings. To schedule an initial consultation regarding your alleged violation or hearing please contact us through our Online Contact Form , by email: firstname.lastname@example.org , or by phone: (212) 835-6768 or (609) 480-3080.