One penalty for violating New Jersey ABC laws is an Order of Suspension. An Order of Suspension prohibits the license holder from selling any alcohol on the premises for the duration of the suspension of their license and also prohibits the license holder from serving, delivering or permitting the consumption of alcohol on their premises. The only exceptions to this rule are if the license holder has obtained written permission of the A.B.C. Director to return alcoholic beverages to wholesalers or manufacturers, and there is also an exception provided for the storage of alcoholic beverages on hand at the license holding establishment for the duration of the suspension. The suspended license holder cannot during the period of suspension receive any deliveries of alcoholic beverages at their establishment and any penalties against the person or the license itself must be disclosed on page 6 of the license application.
There is no consumption of alcohol allowed on the premises when the license is suspended and customers are prohibited from bringing their own alcohol to the establishment. Additionally, there is no activity allowed on the premises involving alcohol during suspension which would not otherwise be permitted had the license not been suspended.
There are a variety of punishments short of suspension of the license available to the A.B.C. Minor infractions such as failure to include certain documentation will often result in warning letters or a fine in lieu of prosecution. These are typically issued when the individual violations do not exceed a one day suspension and any cumulative violations do not exceed a five day suspension, according to the rules set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:2-19.1 to N.J.A.C. 13:2-19.16
For serious violations, charges will be filed against the license. When this occurs there is a 30 day period in which the license holder may enter a plea, and they may also gain an additional 30 day extension to do so if there is shown to be good cause. If no plea is entered regulations state that a plea of non-vult will be entered against the license holder. The amount of suspension in terms of days varies, and the penalty imposed is within the sole discretion of the Director, though they can vary between 1 day to 90 days.
The A.B.C. Director may, at his discretion, decide to accept a fine in compromise for all or part of a suspension. However this is based on the consideration of the director and a variety of other factors such as whether this is a repeat offense, whether there existed mitigating or aggravating circumstances and at what stage of the proceedings there was a request.
For serious repetitive violations (usually three or more violations) the license may be revoked. Some violations where the license may be revoked include illegal activity on the licensed premises, providing false information on the license application, leasing out the license, failure to maintain true books, gambling activity, hindering an investigation, and sales to person under the legal age.
Further information regarding the penalty schedule for violations can be found in the State of New Jersey Alcoholic Beverage Control Handbook for Retail Licensees. The Handbook was recently revised in November 2010.
Contact the experienced New Jersey ABC attorneys at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. to discuss any questions you may have regarding the liquor license laws of the State of New Jersey.
Call (732) 540-1233.