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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.