Every establishment in the state of Texas that wishes to serve alcoholic beverages—be the bar, restaurant, or other forum—must gain a permit and license to do so. These licenses are dispensed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which also serves to regulate the manufacture, importing, transporting and advertising of alcoholic beverages in the state. It also investigates alleged violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, which are often brought to its attention by complaints made by members of the public. And, where it determines that violations have indeed occurred, it is empowered to suspend any permits it has issued.
When a restaurant is accused of violations in a formal complaint, the Commission will open an investigation. Among the most common complaints to the Commission are such infractions as selling alcoholic beverages without a permit, selling alcoholic beverages after the hours in which they are permitted, and selling alcoholic beverages to intoxicated people or to minors. There are also situations in which an establishment is accused of engaging in illegal activity such as illicit drug use, gambling, or prostitution, as well as situations in which the establishment is owned by someone that is not the person listed on the permit.
Naturally, a citation issued against a restaurant for violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code could mean that the business is in danger. The payment of a citation is usually quite expensive, as citations are formulated to be punitive. They do come in a cumulative scale—usually, a restaurant's penalty for a first violation will be lower than it would be for any further violations. Of course, even in the instance of a first violation, if there are any elements of the allegations that would serve to aggravate the charge, the penalty could be worse. And, of course, if the Commission decides to revoke the restaurant's license to serve alcohol, the restaurant might not be able to survive.
This is why, as soon as the letter arrives informing the restaurant of a complaint alleging it has committed violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, its owners should contact a qualified and experienced professional license defense attorney. The more time we have to craft a dispassionate, persuasive response, the better. And the earlier in the process we are involved, the more likely we can help to achieve a positive outcome—up to and including a dismissal of the complaint. But we can't help if we aren't contacted.
The experienced professional license defense attorneys at BERTOLINO LLP are skilled at navigating the complaint process. We are prepared to represent you at any legal hearing or proceeding regarding your professional license. With offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, we serve clients all over the state. As experienced attorneys, well-versed in state and federal laws, we know how to win. Contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 to schedule a case evaluation.