If you’re liquor licensee in Pennsylvania, you’re likely subject to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (PLCB) Nuisance Bar Program (“NBP”). The NBP was established in 1990 and is run by the PLCB. The NBP provides a method for the PLCB to manage licensed establishments that may have “abused” their licensing privilege. The program’s objective is to help licensees avoid being labeled as a “nuisance bar” by changing their business practices and to close establishments that are determined to be a “nuisance.”
Being considered a nuisance has, in large part, to do with the number of citations that an establishment receives. The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (PSP-BLCE) enforces the Liquor Code (the “Code”). It is the PSP-BLCE that will issue citations for violations of the Code. Violations can include drug transactions on the licensed premises, serving after-hours or serving alcohol to minors. A licensee who receives a citation should contact counsel to discuss its options.
Licensees should keep in mind that the PLCB actively encourages the establishment’s neighbors and other concerned citizens to report suspected violations to the PLCB and local law enforcement. It’s also important to remember that licensees are required to renew their liquor license every two years. It is at the time of renewal that the PLCB will look at any citations received by, and any complaints made against, the licensed establishment to decide whether to renew the license. Using certain criteria, including, whether a licensee has received three or more citations for sales to visibly intoxicated persons, sales to minors, noisy or disorderly operations, after-hours sales, immoral conduct and/or entertainment, and the establishment being frequented by minors, the PLCB will determine whether a licensed establishment has abused the privilege of its liquor license. If it is determined that the licensee has abused such privilege, then the PLCB can suspend or revoke/terminate the license.
So, what does this mean for a licensee? Don’t be a nuisance. Follow the rules and regulations established under the Liquor Code. And, if you are issued a citation for a violation of the Code, contact an attorney who can help you handle the claim(s) accordingly, and in a way that protects your establishment’s best interests.