SALT LAKE CITY — State alcohol regulators are having troubling collecting possibly thousands of dollars in fines from some businesses and workers that violate Utah liquor laws.
Assistant attorney general Sheila Page estimates 20 percent to 25 percent of liquor license holders don't honor settlement agreements they have reached with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
"It's very frustrating" Page told the state alcohol commission Tuesday.
Compliance officers issue about 150 to 200 citations a year for a range of violations, mostly selling alcohol to minors. A restaurant cited for a first-time offense faces a $1,000 fine or five-day suspension of its liquor permit. A server faces a $200 fine or five-day suspension from serving alcohol.
Violators sign a settlement agreement with DABC and then are expected to pay the fine. But Page said too many are failing to meet their obligations.
Though DABC didn't have 2017 figures available, unpaid fines and fees could total thousands of dollars.
Since 2011, the department has collected about $1.2 million in fines and fees, an average of about $200,000 a year.
Page said it can take a lot of time trying to collect the money, especially from individuals who might no longer work at the business. The settlement of a citation is typically done over the phone or by email.
"It's not a pleasant process," she said.Comment on this story
The seven-member commission discussed ways to resolve the problem but didn't make any decisions Tuesday. It has the power to issue an order to show cause requiring a violator to explain itself to the commission. It could also set a deadline for payment or revoke a settlement agreement.
Commissioners, however, noted that could be a monthslong process and they prefer to handle it quicker.
On Tuesday, the commission required three restaurants that have not paid their fines by Dec. 15 to appear before the panel to show why they shouldn't be further disciplined.