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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BEER & POP WAREHOUSE (08/16/88)

decided: August 16, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD, APPELLANT
v.
BEER & POP WAREHOUSE, INC., APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in the case of Beer & Pop Warehouse, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, No. S.A. 2151 of 1987.

COUNSEL

Felix Thau, Deputy Chief Counsel, with him, Kenneth B. Skelly, Chief Counsel, for appellant.

David R. Brown, Litman, Litman, Harris, Brown and Watzman, P.C., for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Colins dissents.

Author: Crumlish

[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 560]

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board) fined Beer & Pop Warehouse, Inc. (licensee) $500 for selling alcohol to a minor. The Allegheny County Common Pleas Court sustained the licensee's appeal. The Board appeals; we reverse.

The issue before this Court is whether the Board complied with a certain statutory time limitation found in Section 471 of the Liquor Code,*fn1 which establishes

[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 561]

    calendar time constraints on the investigation, citation and disposition of alleged Liquor Code violations. This Court has recently examined other schedule restrictions in Section 471 in Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. S & B Restaurants, Inc., 112 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 382, 535 A.2d 709 (1988); Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. Civic Arena Corp., 117 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 75, 543 A.2d 207 (1988), and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. Dentici, 117 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 70, 542 A.2d 229 (1988). In order to consolidate the precedent and inform the Board and its licensees of a timely proper enforcement proceeding, we review the current proceeding together with our prior decisions.

A Board investigation cannot exceed ninety days. 4-6 Club v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 442 Pa. 154, 275 A.2d 40 (1971). Within ten days upon completion of the investigation, the Board must notify the licensee of the possible citation on the infraction. Id. The citation must issue within one year from the date of the violation, Silva Liquor License Case, 219 Pa. Superior Ct. 31, 275 A.2d 871 (1971), and set a hearing before an examiner not less than ten nor more than sixty days from the issuance date. In Civic Arena, we recently held that the hearing time requirement was "directory," i.e., it could be extended by Board continuance unless the licensee's due process rights were violated.

After hearing, and upon conclusion that violations occurred, the Board must immediately suspend or revoke the license or impose a fine. In S & B Restaurants, the immediacy requirement was interpreted as directory to permit proper consideration by a quorum of Board members to vote on finding and penalty at regular meeting.

A licensee must then pay a fine within twenty days of the Board order date, or the Board will suspend or revoke the license. ...


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