In order to encourage and enforce liquor license penalty guidelines, the department must impose penalties in a uniform manner that is consistent. Therefore, the department has set guidelines along with penalties that result with the failure of such guidelines. Below, we will discuss the guidelines and their penalties. 

Penalty policy guidelines

The suspension or revoking of a license by the department is authorized by the constitution of the state of California. This can be done by the department at its discretion if it is determined that taking such action would benefit the public welfare and morals. The guidelines contain a schedule of penalties that will range from Letters of Warning to Revocation. Individual cases will determine the extent of the liquor license penalty based on how high or low they are; usually supported by aggravating or mitigating circumstances. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Prior disciplinary history
  2. Prior warning letters
  3. Licensee involvement
  4. Premises located in high crime area
  5. Lack of cooperation by licensee in investigation
  6. Appearance and actual age of minor
  7. Continuing course or pattern of conduct

Mitigating factors may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Length of licensure at subject premises without prior discipline or problems
  2. Positive action by licensee to correct problem
  3. Documented training of licensee and employees
  4. Cooperation by licensee in investigation

Penalty Schedule

Note: For purposes of this schedule of liquor license penalties, “revocation” includes any period of stayed revocation as well as outright revocation of the license.

  • Sales to minors – § 25658 B&P:
    • Sales of alcoholic beverages to person(s) under 21 – 15 day suspension
    • Permitting person(s) under 21 to consume – 15 day suspension
    • Furnishing or causing to be furnished alcoholic beverages to person(s) under 21 – 15 day suspension
    • 2nd violation of Section 25658 within 36 months – 25 day suspension
    • 3rd violation of Section 25658 within 36 months – Revocation (Note: priors must be final – B & P § 25658.1)
  • Minor(s) on public premises – 25665 B&P – 10 day suspension
  • Employment of minor(s) – 25663 B&P – 10 day suspension
  • Unsupervised sales by person(s) under 18 – 25663(b) B&P – 10 day suspension
  • Sales to obviously intoxicated person(s) – 25602 B&P – 15 day suspension 
    • 2nd violation of 25602 within 3 years – 25 day suspension
    • 3rd violation of 25602 within 3 years – 45 day suspension to revocation
  • Sale and/or Consumption After Hours – 25631 & 25632 B&P:
    • By public – 15 day suspension
    • By employees and friends only – 10 day suspension
    • By employees only – 5 day suspension

– Illegal Solicitation of Alcoholic Beverages:

– Violation of Section 24200.5(b) Revocation Violation of Section 25657(a) – Revocation

– Violation of Section 25657(b) and Section 303a PC – 30 day suspension To revocation

– Employees accepting alcoholic drinks – Rule 143 CCR – 15 day suspension

– Refilling – 25176 & 25177 B&P Code: With different brand – 15 day suspension

– With same brand – 5 day suspension

– Contaminated Bottles (insects, etc.) – 347b PC – 5 day suspension

– Substitution of Brands – 25609 & 23614 B&P – 15 day suspension

– Club Licenses, Sale to Public – 23431 B&P 10 day suspension

– Sale to Purchase Between Retailers – 23402 B&P 15 day suspension

– Not Operating Bona Fide Eating Place – 23038 & 23396 B&P 10 day suspension indefinite

until compliance

– Licensee or Bartender Working In Premises While Intoxicated -24200(a) B&P 30 day suspension

– Licensee or Employee Resisting Arrest or Interfering With Investigation on The Premises – 24200( a) B&P & 148 PC 35 day suspension to revocation

Licensee or Employee Not Permitting Inspection Of: Premises – 25755 B&P 30 day suspension Records – 25616 B&P 30 days and indefinite until records produced

– Alcoholic Beverage Not Permitted By License – 25607 & 23355 B&P:

– Sale 15 day suspension

– Possession 10 day suspension

– Gambling – 24200(a) B&P and 330 PC:

– Organized (bookmaking, football cards, etc.) 30 day suspension

– Local (cards, dice, football & baseball pools, etc.) 10 day suspension

– Electronic/video games (slot machines, Poker, 21, etc.) – possession 15 day suspension

– Electronic/video with payoffs 30 day suspension, with 15 days stayed for 2 years

– Disorderly House, Prostitution, Lewd Conduct – 25601 B&P:

– Occasional or isolated offenses 30 day suspension

– Recurring/aggravated offenses Revocation

– Nude Entertainers, etc. – Rule 143.2 &. 3 30 day suspension to revocation

– Narcotics – B&P 24200.5 and H&S Violations: Transactions on licensed premises Revocation Paraphernalia, possession for sale Revocation, stayed for 3 years and a 20 day suspension

– Failure to correct objectionable conditions -24200(e) and (f) B&P 30 day suspension to revocation

– Undisclosed Ownership – 23300 & 23355 B&P:

– Hidden owner qualified 15 day suspension Indefinite until ownership corrected

– Hidden owner not qualified Revocation

– Hidden owner-priority license Revocation

– Commission of Crime Involving Moral Turpitude – 24200(a) B&P:

– Committed on premises Revocation

 -Committed away from premises (petty theft/shoplifting) Revocation stayed 3yrs

– Committed away from premises (other than petty theft) Revocation

– Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude – 24200(d) B&P Revocation

– Violation Of Conditions – B&P 23804 15 day suspension with 5 days stayed for one year

– Rule 65 – Chapter 1, Title 4 of the CCR Revocation stayed for 180 days to permit transfer or reactivation of license

– Rule 107 – Chapter 1, Title 4 of the CCR 5 day suspension

– Rule 108 – Chapter 1, Title 4 of the CCR 5 day suspension to a suspension equal to double the original suspension

– Exceeding license privileges – 24200(a), 23300, 23355 B&P 5 day suspension to revocation

– PC 313.1 – Harmful matter 5 day suspension

– Sale of alcoholic beverages while under suspension Double the original suspension to revocation

– Receiving Stolen Property – 24200(a) and 664 & 496 PC:

– By license on premises Revocation

– By employee on premises Revocation stayed for 3 years, and a 20 day suspension

– Food Stamp Violations – 24200(a) B&P:

– Allowing purchases of alcoholic beverages 10 day suspension

– Food stamp trafficking (i. e. purchasing stamps at discount):

– By licensee Revocation

– By employee, with premises involvement Revocation, stayed for one year and a 20  day suspension.

– Keg Registration violations 10 day suspension

– Operating Condition Violations – Section 25612.5 B&P:

– Subsections (c) (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (10) 5 day suspension

– Subsections (c) (1), (2), (8), (9) 10 day suspension indefinite until compliance

– Misrepresenting Material Fact on Application – 24200(c) B&P Revocation

Petition For Offer in Compromise (“POIC”)

Regarding a liquor license penalty, according to the ABC, if your business is in the process of being suspended, you can obtain a Petition for Offer in Compromise:

“ Business and Professions Code Section 23098 authorizes the Department to accept a Petition for Offer in Compromise (“POIC”) in lieu of the service of a suspension of 15 days or less. For purposes of determining whether the Department may accept a POIC in lieu of suspension, the total penalty imposed must be for 15 days or less, and shall not include any period of stayed suspension that would result in the potential suspension being for a period of greater than 15 days , nor can it include any period of stayed revocation. In the event that the suspension is for a period of 15 days or less with some portion thereof stayed, the POIC shall be calculated based upon the period of actual suspension (not including the stayed portion). In such cases, if the stayed period of suspension is later reimposed, the Department will generally not accept a POIC in lieu of serving the reimposed period of suspension.”

Abbreviation legend

B&P California Business and Professions Code

PC California Penal Code

H&S California Health & Safety Code

CCR California Code of Regulations

POIC Payment of Offer in Compromise (B&P Sections 23095 & 23096)

Title 4 California Code of Regulations, Section 144. Penalty Guidelines

In reaching a decision on a disciplinary action under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (Bus. and Prof. Code Sections 23000, et seq.), and the Administrative Procedures Act (Govt. Code Sections 11400, et seq.), the Department shall consider the disciplinary guidelines entitled “Penalty Guidelines” (dated 12/17/2003) which are hereby incorporated by reference. Deviation from these guidelines is appropriate where the Department in its sole discretion determines that the facts of the particular case warrant such a deviation – such as where facts in aggravation or mitigation exist.


Authority cited: Section 25750, Business and Professions Code; and Section 22, Article XX, California Constitution. Reference: Section 23001, Business and Professions Code; and Section 11425.50(e), Government Code.


New section filed 4-13-2004 as an emergency; operative 4-13-2004 (Register 2004, No. 16). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 8-11-2004 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day. For prior history, see Register 68, No. 46.

Certificate of Compliance as to 4- 13-2004 order transmitted to OAL 8-11- 2004; disapproved by OAL and order of repeal and deletion filed 9-23- 2004 (Register 2004, No. 39).

New section filed 9-23-2004 as an emergency; operative 9-23-2004 (Register 2004, No. 39). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 1-21-2005 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.

Certificate of Compliance as to 9-23 -2004 order, including amendment of section, transmitted to OAL 11-18-2004 and filed 12-16-2004 (Register 2004, No. 51).

Contact us if you have any questions on a liquor license penalty.

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