WHO ENFORCES LIQUOR LAWS?The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services is primarily a retailing and licensing agency, not a law enforcement bureau. Enforcement of Utah's alcohol laws is the primary responsibility of:
- Local Police
- County Sheriff's Offices
- Utah Department of Public Safety
These agencies may conduct on-the-spot inspections or undercover investigations to determine if there are any violations of the liquor laws or if everything is good to go.
If law enforcement discovers a possible violation of Utah alcohol law, they may refer the matter to a local prosecutor for the possible filing of criminal charges and/or they may refer the case to DABS and local licensing bureaus for possible action on a license. Once DABS receives a referral from a law enforcement agency, it will be determined whether action on the license is warranted. DABS will:
- Screen the police report
- Determine the severity of the alleged violation(s)
- If the department decides that action is warranted, the administrative proceeding begins to determine whether a violation, in fact, occurred.
Violations are divided by types: minor, moderate, serious, and grave based on their relative degree of severity. Violation descriptions are found in the violation grid.
Most cases are settled before going to a hearing. Cases that go to a hearing are heard by an independent, outside hearing officer who issues findings and makes recommendations to the Alcoholic Beverage Services Commission to then take final action. The commission may fine the licensee, or suspend or revoke the license and order the forfeiture of the license and compliance bond. The commission may also order the offending employee be suspended from employment with any department licensee for a period of time.
Find more information on Sale of Alcohol to Minors violations.