Tag Archives: Violations

OLCC Priority Violations

OLCC Priority Violations.  There are 1000’s of licensed businesses in Oregon.  This can be great for Oregonians, but can present a real challenge to the OLCC in terms of monitoring them for compliance.  The OLCC must decide each day how to allocate its enforcement officers and focus its efforts across the state.  In order to maximize the effectiveness and coverage of their enforcement efforts, the OLCC focuses on a subset of licensed businesses and a subset of violations.

Licensees can benefit by understanding how the OLCC prioritizes their efforts.

That doesn’t mean that the OLCC is simply turning a blind eye to other businesses or violations.  For example, the OLCC’s minor decoy program involves visits to randomly selected businesses across the state.  In addition, even if a violation is not a “priority violation,” the OLCC may still take action if the violation is discovered.

The OLCC typically focuses on businesses with documented compliance problems.  The compliance problems may be documented from calls for service from local law enforcement, citizen complaints, or prior warnings or violations from the OLCC.  The take-away for licensees is that they should operate their business in a manner that minimizes calls for service and citizen complaints.  And, maybe even more importantly, licensees should take note if their business starts getting visits from local law enforcement or starts to receive citizen complaints.  These may be early warning signs of problems and provide a licensee with an opportunity to take corrective action BEFORE the issues develop into problems with the OLCC.

The OLCC also has identified what it considers priority violations and include the following:

Category I Violations

• Failure to maintain liquor liability insurance or bond (see Section 200L)
• Licensee convicted of a felony
• History of serious & persistent problems (HSPP)
• Restriction violation
• Unauthorized interest in a business (involves an unlicensable person)
• Operating while suspended

Category II/II(a) Violations

• Interfered with investigation
• Material false statement
• Under the influence of intoxicants on duty
• Failed to call police at Inspector’s request
• Denied Inspector/police officer access to premises (during business hours)
• Failed to promptly admit Inspector/officer (when premises is or appears closed)
• Unlawful drug activity on the licensed premises (II(a))

Category III/III(a) Violations

• Failed to verify the age of a minor
• Permitted minor to consume alcohol
• Sale to VIP
• Allowing VIP to consume alcohol
• Permitting disorderly activity
• Permitting unlawful activity

Licensees should understand the nature of these violations and be vigilant to ensure that they do not occur at their business.  Well drafted house policies, ongoing training efforts and trustworthy management and staff are essential to operating a profitable and compliant licensed business in Oregon.

Can an OLCC Licensee Accept a Canadian Driver’s License?

Can an OLCC Licensee Accept a Canadian Driver’s License?

Acceptable Forms of ID. Under Oregon law, licensees may accept only the following forms of identification alone as proof of age:

1. A valid state driver’s license with a photo;
2. A valid ID card issued by a state with photo, name, date of birth, & physical description;
3. A valid passport; or
4. A valid U.S. military ID card.
ORS 471.130

Foreign Driver Licensees. The OLCC interprets the word “state” in ORS 471.130(1)(b) to include driver’s licenses issued by US territories and states/provinces of foreign countries including Canada and Mexico. However, if a licensee cannot determine from the license the person’s age or whether the ID is a valid/authentic license from another country, the OLCC recommends that the licensee require another form of ID such as a passport.

The Licensee Assumes the Risk. In short, a licensee takes on the risk when it accepts a foreign driver’s license as the only evidence of age. If it turns out the identification is not authentic, the licensee is at risk of receiving a violation from the OLCC. For this reason, some establishments will not accept foreign driver’s licenses as a matter of policy, but they will accept passports. Generally speaking, most out-of-country visitors to the United States should have a valid passport that they used to gain entry to the US and that can be used as proof of age.

Take Away and Best Practices. In summary, a licensee can accept foreign driver’s licenses as proof of age, but it likely involves more risk because it is more difficult to determine if a foreign driver’s license is authentic or not. If a licensee decides to accept foreign driver’s licenses as acceptable identification, a best practice is to require a manager sign off to ensure that there are at least two sets of eyes on the identification. In addition, or alternatively, a licensee may decide to accept only foreign driver’s licenses for a limited number of countries, such as Canada and Mexico, and obtain resources that describe these forms of identification. The ID book that you currently use may include a section on some foreign forms of identification.

Age Verification Equipment: Should You Agree to Use It to Resolve an OLCC Violation?

Age Verification Equipment (“AVE”): Should You Agree to Use It to Resolve an OLCC Violation?

The AVE Option. ORS 471.392 allows the OLCC to use AVE as a tool to reduce underage drinking and helps licensees demonstrate that they are responsible business owners. OAR 845-009-0140 allows a licensee to purchase and use AVE in lieu of a civil penalty or suspension for a first sale to a minor or failure to verify age violation. If a licensee did not select the AVE option for a first violation of this type, the OLCC may give a licensee the option to buy and use AVE to partially offset a civil penalty or suspension for a second violation. A licensee can only use this option one time at a particular licensed location.

Process for Selecting the AVE Option. The licensee must notify the OLCC within 15 days of receiving a Notice of Violation of their intention to get and use the AVE. Licensees must be using the AVE within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Violation. Licensees should carefully review the Notice of Violation and diligently follow the instructions listed in the Notice.

AVE Is For Life. Going forward, the licensee must use AVE at every point of sale used to sell alcohol, and the equipment must be used at each point of sale as long as the licensee owns the business. Failure to use the AVE equipment can result in an aggravated penalty for future violations of this type and possible removal from the Responsible Vendor Program. There is no process for eliminating this requirement from a liquor license other than a change of ownership at the location. In other words, a licensee is agreeing to use the AVE at the location as long as the licensee operates at the location and is subject to aggravated penalties for any subsequent violations if the AVE is not appropriately used. In addition, the licensee will need to pay for upgrades or otherwise insure that the AVE meets the OLCC’s standards for the same time period.

AVE Equipment. The AVE must meet all of the following standards:

(a) The equipment must trigger an age verification process or the equipment itself must verify the age. In either case, the equipment must indicate to the licensee or employee if the customer is of legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages;

(b) The equipment must have a memory function and must be capable of producing a hard copy printout of the results of any verification transaction within the last seven days, either directly from the equipment or through a computer;

(c) The equipment must be able to perform the age verification function for identification from all states in the United States, via either the equipment reading the identification automatically or manual entry of the information; and

(d) The equipment must have the capacity to be updated or upgraded.

Final Verdict. Licensees should carefully consider whether or not AVE is right for them and their business. And, even if using AVE at the business makes sense, licensees should determine whether it makes sense to be permanently bound to using AVE going forward. The short term benefit of an elimination or reduction of a sanction may not outweigh the potential long term burdens of complying with the AVE requirement. Determining how to respond to an OLCC violation requires careful deliberation. Even if settlement is the right option, the details of the settlement matter. In addition, when determining how to respond to an OLCC violation, it is essential to consider the longer view. AVE may not be the best option for all licensees. Understanding your options, what to expect going forward, and how best to ensure future compliance is essential to your business’s continued success when operating in the heavily regulated alcohol regulatory environment.