The Public Law Section Hears Interesting Facts about the ABC


Sometimes a phone call from ABC to a licensee may be enough to bring awareness to an absentee owner that his business needs a “check-up.”


By Heather Hoganson is an attorney with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. She may be contacted at Heather.Hoganson@ABC.ca.gov.
By Heather Hoganson is an attorney with the Department
of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
She may be contacted at
Heather.Hoganson@ABC.ca.gov.

What can cities or counties do about out-of-control biker bars or drug-infested convenience stores? Michael L. Korson, Deputy Division Chief of the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Northern Division), recently explained to Public Law Section attendees some techniques that local governments and law enforcement have in their toolbox to combat problem areas. In ABC terms, a particular bar that generates excessive law enforcement issues is described as a “disorderly house.” (Bus. & Prof. Code §25601.)

There are over 88,000 permanent licenses in the State of California, plus a multitude of temporary event permits. ABC has 21 field offices throughout the state, with approximately 150 agents. Last fiscal year, ABC filed 1876 disciplinary actions and made over 3600 arrests (both misdemeanor and felony). These cases involve (among other things): sales of alcohol to minors or obviously intoxicated persons; sales or service after hours; narcotic sales; prostitution or illegal drink solicitation; gambling; or disorderly houses. Payments made in lieu of suspensions brought in $3.1 million to the General Fund last fiscal year.─If a licensee is suspended or pays a payment in lieu of such, the hope is that the particular licensee will be more careful in the future. Successive disciplinary actions can result in revocation of the license completely.─There were approximately 700 suspensions and 200 revocations last fiscal year.

If a local government is having a problem with litter, graffiti, loitering, etc., around a particular premises, ABC agents can work with local law enforcement as part of the Retail Operating Standards Task Force (ROSTF) to identify businesses in violation of their operating standards;─warnings are issued; follow-up inspections are conducted; and discipline may result if the problem is not resolved. IMPACT inspections (Informed Merchants Preventing Alcohol-Related Crime Tendencies) are conducted on licensed premises to identify any areas of non-compliance and educate the licensees of their responsibilities and of the issues. ABC enforcement may also be initiated by citizen complaints, forwarded police reports, undercover investigations, or notifications from other agencies, such as fire, health, building and safety, employment development, labor, or welfare departments. Sometimes a phone call from ABC to a licensee may be enough to bring awareness to an absentee owner that his business needs a “check-up.”

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