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Roles in Licensing and Enforcement

While the PLCB is responsible for issuing and renewing liquor licenses, enforcement of liquor laws as they relate to licensees including bars and restaurants is not the responsibility of the agency. The PLCB can refuse to renew a license, but it is not authorized to fine a licensee or revoke or suspend a liquor license for citation matters.

Instead, enforcement of the Liquor Code and PLCB regulations is done by the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (PSP BLCE).The PSP BLCE issues citations against bars and restaurants who are found to be in violation of the Liquor Code.

The Office of Administrative Law Judge, which is an authority independent of the PLCB, adjudicates all citations against licensees issued by the PSP BLCE. For each citation, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issues an adjudication presenting findings of fact, conclusions of law and penalties, where applicable. The Office of ALJ has the authority to revoke liquor licenses.

• Following citation by the PSP BLCE, a licensee may either admit guilt and waive appeal rights or request a hearing before an ALJ to challenge or contest the citation.

• Similar to court hearings, ALJ hearings provide the licensee and the PSP BLCE opportunities to testify under oath and call witnesses, who may be subjected to questioning by both parties. In a hearing, the PSP BLCE has the burden of proving a licensee violated the Liquor Code.

• Many ALJ adjudications are available online in a searchable database. The PLCB also summarizes adjudicated citations issued against licensees within its License Search System.