Who Enforces the 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 - State Bureau of Investigation.
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 they find violations, 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)
- Begin an administrative proceeding to determine whether a violation in fact occurred
The Alcoholic Beverage Services Commission has given DABS guidelines for processing violations to ensure that each violation is handled fairly and consistently. The commission has grouped violations into four categories ranging from minor, moderate, serious, and grave based on their relative degree of severity. Obviously, violations that pose a risk to public safety, health and welfare, or that involve minors, or acts of fraud are considered the most serious and carry the greater penalties.
Most cases are usually settled before it goes to a hearing under guidelines set by the commission. Those cases that go to a hearing are heard by an independent, outside hearing officer who issues findings and makes recommendations to the commission for 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 that the offending employee be suspended from employment with any department licensee for a period of time.