Following is a broad outline of the hearings process. For questions or additional information, contact the Hearings, Appeals and Judicial Services Division at (804) 213-4444.
1. The hearings process is initiated.
The mission of the Hearings, Appeals and Judicial Services Division is to provide a fair and unbiased forum to resolve ABC administrative violations. Generally, three different actions generate the need for an ABC hearing:
- Disciplinary hearings to determine whether a licensee has violated one or more ABC laws and regulations; to seek approval of a licensee's designated manager; or to approve an area for exercise of the licensee privilege.
- Contested application hearings to grant an ABC license or permit.
- Beer and Wine Franchise Act hearings, involving wholesale licensees.
2. The case is docketed.
A docket is the official schedule of hearings pending before the ABC Board
. Licensees will be afforded reasonable notice of a pending hearing stating the time, place and issues involved (3 VAC 5-10-140
). Dockets are also provided online.
3. Hearing alternatives may be considered.
In disciplinary cases, one of two settlement options may eliminate the need for a hearing: consent settlements and offers-in-compromise.
- Consent settlements: The chief hearing officer initiates a consent settlement in writing. The licensee admits the alleged violation(s) and accepts a monetary penalty and/or suspension of the ABC license. The licensee thus waives the right to a hearing and an appeal. All settlements must be approved by the ABC Board.
- Offers-in-compromise: The licensee initiates an offer-in-compromise by admitting to the alleged violation(s) and proposing a monetary penalty and/or suspension of the ABC license in a written proposal submitted directly to the ABC Board. The Board will either accept or reject the offer. If it is rejected, the licensee may submit a second offer to the Board, or appear at the hearing on the appointed date.
4. An initial hearing is held.
Initial hearings are usually held at one of Virginia ABC's regional offices
or in meeting rooms / court rooms in that region. Initial hearings are held before a hearing officer. Before the hearing, cases may be continued, rescheduled or dismissed. A continuance is a request by one of the parties to a case to delay a scheduled hearing to another time. Continuances are granted on a reasonable basis after showing good cause to the chief hearing officer.
5. An initial decision is issued.
After the hearing, the hearing officer will mail the involved parties a written report detailing the decision. This is called an initial decision.
6. The initial decision may be appealed.
An applicant, licensee or other interested party can appeal the decision of the hearing officer to the ABC Board.
7. An appeal hearing is scheduled and held.
Appeal hearings are held at the ABC Central Office in Richmond. Appeal hearings are before the full ABC Board.
8. A final decision is issued.
The ABC Board levies final penalties or takes action pursuant to the administrative hearings. The decisions of the ABC Board are final, but may be appealed to the local circuit court and beyond that to the Court of Appeals of Virginia