The Department of Excise and Licenses can start 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 also can 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 can be initiated upon receipt of information that suggest a licensee has engaged in conduct or behavior that violates existing laws and/or policies and procedures. Investigations can 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 citizens.
If an investigation is founded, the Department of Excise and Licenses will take one of two actions. It will require the licensee to present itself in an “order in” or it will file an administrative complaint against the licensee.
The Department of Excise and Licenses or its designated agent can 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 about non-compliant conduct and admonishes a licensee to take corrective action. The department can require a licensee to agree to correct non-compliant conduct or be subject to further disciplinary action.
Show cause complaints
The department can issue 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 will provide the licensee a copy of a show cause order. The order will include the basis of the complaint and notice of the date and time of a hearing where the licensee must show cause why its license should not be suspended or revoked. The city bears the burden of proof for the basis of the show cause order. The licensing authority can administer oaths and issue subpoenas to require the presence of people and the production of papers, books, and records necessary for any hearing that the licensing authority is authorized to conduct.
A licensee must 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 can meet with an assistant city attorney to discuss the complaint to resolve the matter without a hearing. If agreed to by the parties, the assistant city attorney and the licensee can submit a proposed stipulation to the director of the Department to resolve the show cause matter. The director has discretion to accept or reject a proposed stipulation. If a 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 and have the parties proceed to a hearing as originally scheduled.
The director of the Department of Excise and Licenses will not accept a proposed stipulation within 72 hours of a hearing date.
When there is a hearing, within 10 days of the date, 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 have 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 will not exceed six months.
The Department of Excise and Licenses will not take administrative action where an investigation is deemed “unfounded." An unfounded investigation exists when there is no basis to proceed with administrative action.
According to Colorado Revised Statute, Section 44-3-601(2) and Regulation 47-602, the Department can issue a summary suspension of a license when it has reasonable grounds to believe and determines a licensee is 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 15 days. The city bears the burden of proof on a summary suspension. The licensee can present any evidence in their defense.
After hearing testimony and evidence related to a summary suspension, a hearing officer will issue a recommended decision. A copy will be provided to the licensee. The assistant city attorney and the licensee each have 10 days to file objections. Once objections, if any, are received, the director will issue a final decision.