Liquor Licenses Policies and Procedures

  • The licensee is required to comply with all state and local laws and ordinances. 
  • If complaints are received regarding the conduct of a cabaret license, the Department will generally follow the same procedures that are available in the case of a liquor licensed premises. A meeting with the detective and mediation are possible results of a complaint and investigation as are a show cause order and hearing regarding the suspension or revocation of the license. 
  • The director may suspend or revoke a license for grounds outlined in the Denver Revised Municipal Code. If there are grounds alleged to suspend or revoke a license, the director will set a hearing for determination as to whether or not there are sufficient grounds to take disciplinary action and what that action will be. D.R.M.C. Sec. 6-61, 32-22. The hearing will be conducted in a similar manner to that used for a liquor license show cause hearing. 
  • If a license is suspended, the premises must be posted with two notices as described in D.R.M.C. Section 6-61(c). 
  • The director may enter an order for the immediate suspension of a cabaret license for a period not exceeding fifteen days if probable cause exists for revocation or suspension of any license for the privilege of conducting business. D.R.M.C. Sec. 32-23. A hearing will be held on such an emergency suspension within fifteen days similar to that held for summary suspension of a liquor license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • A cabaret licensee may not enlarge, modify, or alter the premises without the approval of the director. Forms to apply for approval are available at the Department of Excise and Licenses. 
  • Application forms must be filed with the department no fewer than thirty (30) days prior to the proposed starting date and/or construction date. This is particularly important since some modifications require notification to registered neighborhood organizations for input into said modification. Filing this request 30 days prior to the proposed starting date does not guaranty that any request will be approved within 30 days. No action will be taken until the application is complete. 
  • The applicant must complete the form, provide a drawing of the current premises and a drawing showing the proposed changes. The applicant must also provide an approved zoning use permit. 
  • If the Director concludes that the proposed changes materially or substantially alter the premises or the usage of the premises, the director will notify the registered neighborhood groups whose boundaries are within 200 feet of the location. 
  • If the director receives objections to the modification from any neighborhood groups or neighbors or if other grounds exist for denial, the director may deny the application and give the applicant a certain number of days within which to request a hearing. 
  • If the applicant requests a hearing, the department will schedule one. The applicant will be required to post the premises with the time and date of the hearing in a similar manner to the posting for the new application for thirty days. At the hearing, evidence will be allowed consistent with that allowed in a hearing on modification of a liquor licensed premises as outlined in Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division Regulation 47-302 including evidence regarding the needs and desires of the neighborhood. 
  • After the hearing, the hearing officer will submit a written recommended decision to the director. Each party will be given ten days to object to the decision. The Director will then issue a final decision based on the evidence presented.
Any standard cabaret, dance cabaret, special dance cabaret, or acoustic cabaret licensee desiring to allow patrons under sixteen years of age on the licensed premises when entertainment is being provided may do so only under one of the following conditions set forth in Denver Revised Municipal Code Section 6-34(b):

 

  • Each patron under sixteen years of age accompanied by either a parent or legal guardian
  • The entertainment is being offered in a room separate from a room where patrons under sixteen years of age are located for the purpose of dining
  • When alcohol is not sold or dispensed and is not displayed or exhibited anywhere on the premises
  • When the establishment is not offering any entertainment anywhere on the premises

 

Any event center cabaret licensee desiring to allow persons under sixteen years of age on the licensed premises at any time may do so only under one of the following conditions set forth in Denver Revised Municipal Code Section 6-34(d): 

  • Each patron under sixteen years of age is accompanied by either a parent or guardian
  • When alcohol is not sold or dispensed and is not displayed or exhibited anywhere on the premises

An applicant for a new liquor license may request the local licensing authority to approve concurrent review of the application by the state. Such review will be approved only when the application documents are complete, i.e., when the public hearing is set.

There is an additional fee for a concurrent review.

The Department of Excise and Licenses reserves right to initiate investigations related to alleged violations of the state liquor and beer codes and/or local cabaret ordinances and/or department policies and procedures. The department additionally reserves right to take administrative action against a licensee where appropriate.

 

Procedures

 

Investigations

Investigations related to alleged violations of the state liquor and beer codes and/or local cabaret ordinances and/or department policies and procedures may be initiated upon receipt of information by the Department of Excise and Licenses that suggest that a licensee has engaged in conduct or behavior that violates existing laws and/or policies and procedures. Investigations may be conducted by state liquor enforcement officials or its designated agents, the Denver Police Department or its designated agents, Inspectors employed by the Department of Excise and Licenses, or any other representative or agent of the City and County of Denver vested with authority to maintain the health, safety, peace and welfare of Denver citizens.

 

Founded Investigations

If an investigation is founded, the Department of Excise and Licenses will take one of two actions. The department will either require the licensee to present itself to the agency to participate in an “order in” or the department will file an administrative complaint against the licensee.

 

Order In

The Department of Excise and Licenses or its designated agent may order a licensee to appear at the department to discuss alleged violations of the state liquor code and/or violations of local ordinances and/or violations of department policies and procedures. During an order in the department provides fair warning to a licensee about non-compliant conduct and admonishes a licensee to immediately take corrective action. The department may require a licensee to agree in writing to correct non-compliant conduct or be subject to further disciplinary action. 

 

Show Cause Complaints

The department may cause to be issued a show cause order to any licensee who is alleged to have violated any federal, state, or local laws and city ordinances or any regulations or procedures governing the conduct of liquor licensed establishments. The department shall provide the licensee with a copy of a show cause order. Such order shall include the basis of the complaint and notice of the date and time of a hearing at which the licensee must show cause why its license should not be suspended or revoked. The city bears the burden of proof regarding the basis of the show cause order. The licensing authority has the power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to require the presence of persons and the production of papers, books, and records necessary for any hearing that the licensing authority is authorized to conduct.

A licensee has obligation to comply with notice requirements mandated by state law and/or regulations, and/or local ordinances, and/or agency policies and procedures. If a licensee fails to abide by requisite notice requirements, the Department of Excise and Licenses will take further appropriate administrative action. 

 

Public Hearing Process

Licensees subject to show cause actions will have opportunity to meet with an Assistant City Attorney to discuss allegations in the complaint to resolve the show cause matter without a hearing. If agreed to by the parties, the Assistant City Attorney and the licensee may submit a proposed Stipulation to the Director of the Department to resolve the show cause matter. The Director has sole discretion to either accept or reject a proposed stipulation. If a proposed Stipulation is accepted, the Director will issue an Order to include administrative action taken against the licensee. The Department will provide a copy of the order to the licensee. If a proposed Stipulation is rejected, the Director will issue an Order indicating so and will further order the parties to proceed to hearing as originally scheduled.

 

The Director of the Department of Excise and Licenses will not accept a proposed stipulation within seventy-two (72) ours of a hearing date.

When a matter proceeds to hearing, within ten (10) days of the date of the hearing, a Hearing Officer will issue a Recommended Decision. A copy of the decision will be provided to the licensee. The City’s representative and the licensee will each have ten (10) days to file objections to a recommended Decision. Once objections, if any, are received, the Director will issue a final decision. Any suspension of a license as result of a show cause action shall not exceed a period of six (6) months.

 

Unfounded Investigations

The Department of Excise and Licenses will not take administrative action in cases where an investigation is deemed “unfounded." An unfounded investigation exists when it is determined that there is no basis upon which to proceed with an administrative action.

 

Summary Suspensions

Per Colorado Revised Statute, Section 12-47-601(2) and Regulation 47-602, the Department may issue a summary suspension of a license when it has reasonable grounds to believe and determines that a licensee has been guilty of a deliberate and willful violation of any applicable law or regulation or that the public health, safety or welfare imperatively requires emergency action.

When a license is summarily suspended, the Department of Excise and Licenses will schedule a hearing within fifteen (15) days. The city bears the burden of proof at a hearing on a summary suspension. The licensee will be given the opportunity to be present to present any evidence in his/her defense.

After hearing testimony and evidence related to a summary suspension, a Hearing Officer will issue a Recommended Decision. A copy of the decision will be provided to the licensee. The Assistant City Attorney and the licensee will each have ten (10) days to file objections to a Recommended Decision. Once objections, if any, are received, the Director will issue a final decision.

There are times when licensees neglect to inform the Department of Excise and Licenses ofchanges in ownership or corporate structure. Each situation will be handled by the department on an individual basis, with the following guidelines in mind:

 

  • Failure to inform the local licensing authority of these changes is a violation of the Colorado Liquor Code. Generally, the department will consider filing a show cause order for a violation in these cases. The disposition of such a case will depend on a number of factors including:
    • Length of time before the department was informed
    • Manner in which the department was informed (voluntarily or through investigation)
    • Knowledge or lack thereof of the former and current licensees of the violation
    • Truthfulness of the licensee regarding the situation
    • Extent of the change.

 

  • If the violation involves a situation where the occupant of the premises is operating without a valid license, all alcohol sales must cease until a temporary permit or a new license is issued. Depending on the circumstances, an invalid license may have to be surrendered and a new license application filed, without the availability of a temporary permit.

Colorado Statue: Per C.R.S., Section 12-47.1-101 et. Seq., C.R.S., Section 12-60-101 et. Seq., and C.R.S. Sec. 12-47-901(5)(n)(I)

Colorado Liquor Code prohibits an establishment which has a liquor license from permitting any gambling or use of any gambling machine or device on the premises.

Regulation 47-922 of the Colorado Code of Regulations prohibits a licensee from permitting machines or devices normally used for gambling on the premises except as permitted under the Limited Gaming Act. “Gambling device” is defined in C.R.S. Sec. 18-10-102(3) as including devices, machines, paraphernalia or equipment used or usable in professional gambling activity.

Gambling Devices Used/Not Used for Gambling

  • The Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division has taken the position that gambling devices may be allowed on liquor licensed premises if they are not being used for gambling.
  • If they are not used for gambling, they are not considered gambling devices.

 

The Department of Excise and Licenses takes the same position and will allow such devices to be on licensed premises in Denver only if they are not used for gambling.

For example,if a non-profit organization holds a fund-raiser and charges a certain amount to gain entry into the event and host a “Las Vegas” night, all money raised from the use of any gambling device or from gambling-like activity must go to the non-profit. Funds raised may not go to the participants in any manner, i.e., prizes, drinks, a drawing for a prize,etc.

Profits from Gambling Machines Must Go to a Non Profit Organization

Any licensee who proposes to allow the type of fund-raiser described above must file a statement with the Department of Excise and Licenses from the sponsors of the event stating that all profits from use of gambling machines will be contributed directly to an identified non-profit organization.

Said organization must file proof of its status as a non-profit with the department. Proof of non-profit status may be determined by presenting either a current certificate of good standing as a non-profit in the state of Colorado, a letter from the Internal Revenue Service granting non-profit status to the organization, a letter from the national office of a local chapter outlining the basis of the non-profit status, or other document deemed adequate by the Director.

When the Department receives one or more complaints which allege behavior by a licensee or its patrons that is causing problems in the neighborhood, the Director will consider whether or not mediation could be used to resolve complaints.

 Problems include but are not limited to the following:

  • inappropriate behavior of the licensed premises' patrons when they leave the establishment
  • noise
  • trash
  • litter
  • parking problems

 

If the Director believes that mediation may be useful, the Director will ask the licensee and the neighbors to participate in mediation.

If all parties agree, a hearing officer will be assigned to act as a mediator with the parties.  The goal is to reach a written conclusion that is acceptable to all involved.  The written agreement may or may not become part of the license depending on the circumstances of the case.

 

The Department will allow a liquor-licensed premise to reserve an entire licensed premise for a private party.

 

Rules

  • The opportunity to reserve the entire premises for a period of time of ten hours or less shall be available to all members of the general public on the same terms without discrimination.
  • No group will be allowed to have a standing reservation for the use of the entire licensed premises on a weekly or monthly basis as this situation involves the exercise of the privileges of a club license. 
  • Licensees will be allowed to hold a grand opening party one time which may be restricted to invited guests. 
  • Licensees must notify Department of Excise and LIcenses in writing at least three days in advance of the event that the entire premises have been reserved for a given day or night and state who or what organization reserved the premises. For example, if the event is to be held on Friday, the Department must be notified by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday prior to the event. The Director will consider exceptions to the three-day notification requirement for good cause shown such as the late booking of the establishment. 
  • Licensees must post at least two signs at least three days prior to the event notifying customers that the establishment will not be open to the public on the given date. Notification for a Friday night event should begin by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. The size and exact wording of the signs will be left to the discretion of the licensee but must be adequate to notify customers that the public will not be admitted on a certain day during certain times. One sign must be posted inside the premises and one sign must be posted on the door to the establishment. 
  • At no time may the licensee relinquish control of the licensed premises or the service of alcohol to any other person or entity. The licensee must remain in control of the premises and must continue to be in control of the alcohol and service thereof during the event. The licensee and its employees will be held responsible for all conduct taking place on its premises during the event and must at all times comply with all requirements of the Colorado Liquor and Beer codes and the Denver Revised Municipal Code regarding cabaret licenses if the establishment has a cabaret license. The licensee will be required to comply with all applicable laws at all times.

In April 1997, the Colorado State Legislature passed legislation which allows a local licensing authority to deny an application for a tavern or liquor store license if the additional license would add to the undue concentration of liquor licenses in the area and, as a result, require the use of additional law enforcement resources.

 

Regulation 47-301 to determine whether undue concentration of liquor licenses exists

In determining whether to deny an application based on undue concentration considerations, the Department of Excise and Licenses will be guided by Regulation 47-301 of the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division. This regulation states that the local licensing authority may consider the following factors to determine whether undue concentration exists:

  1. Whether the ratio of the number of tavern or retail liquor store licenses within the county where application has been made to the county population exceeds the ratio of the statewide number of licenses of the same class to the state population
  2. Whether the ratio of the number of tavern or retail liquor store licenses within the census tract or census division in which the applicant premises are located to the population of the census tract or division exceeds the ratio of number of licenses of the same class in the county or municipality to the population of the county or municipality where application has been made 
  3. The distance between the applicant premises and the premises of other holders of the same class of license 
  4. Published data concerning the concentration of tavern or retail liquor store licenses and its effect on the need for law enforcement resources
  5. Testimony concerning the use of law enforcement officials with the responsibility for enforcing state or local law in the area in which the applicant premises are located.

Analysis Performed

Analysis related to undue concentration will be performed by the Department of Excise and Licenses at the time an application is submitted for review. The Department will have responsibility to obtain statistical crime data from the Department of Safety to conduct required analysis.

In considering the issue of undue concentration during a hearing, the Hearing Officers or the Director will be flexible regarding the admissibility of evidence, Hearing Officers and the Director will use discretion in ruling on the admissibility of evidence.

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