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 suggests 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. It admonishes a licensee to take corrective action. The Department can require a licensee to agree to correct non-compliant conduct. Otherwise, it is subject to further disciplinary action.
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. It will also include notice of the date and time of a hearing. At the hearing, the licensee must show-cause why their 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. They would require the presence of people and the production of papers, books, and records necessary for any hearing.
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 do so, 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 and resolve the matter without a hearing. If agreed to by the parties, a proposed stipulation can be submitted to the director of the Department to resolve the 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.
The director will not accept a proposed stipulation within 72 hours of a hearing date.
When there is a hearing, a hearing officer will issue a recommended decision within 10 days. 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. Once objections, if any, are received, the director will issue a final decision. Any suspension of a license because 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 determine 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 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, 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.