South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

South Carolina Department of Revenue vs Deborah Culler, d/b/a Monticello Party pack

South Carolina Department of Revenue

South Carolina Department of Revenue
Deborah Culler, d/b/a Monticello Party pack


APPEARANCES: For Petitioner: Caroline H. Raines, Esquire
For Respondent: None




            This matter comes before the Administrative Law Court (ALC or Court) for a contested case hearing pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2007) and S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310, et. seq. (Supp. 2007).

            The South Carolina Department of Revenue (Petitioner or Department) issued a Determination on December 3, 2008, finding that Deborah Culler, d/b/a Monticello Party Pack (Respondent), violated S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(6) (Supp. 2007) by possessing alcoholic liquors on her permitted premises and that total penalties of $1,160.00 should be imposed.

            After notice to the parties, the Court held a hearing on Monday, March 30, 2009, at the offices of the ALC in Columbia, South Carolina.  The Respondent was not present at the scheduled time.  The Court delayed opening the record until approximately 2:15 p.m., and attempted to call the lawyer that Respondent had identified as her counsel.  Despite these courtesy attempts to provide additional notice, the Respondent failed to appear at the hearing.  The Department appeared at the hearing and was represented by Caroline H. Raines, Esquire.   


            Having observed the testimony of the witness and exhibits presented at the hearing and taking into consideration the burden of persuasion and credibility of the witness, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence:

            1.         Notice of the time, date, place and subject matter of the hearing was timely given to the Petitioner and the Respondent.

            2.         Respondent failed to appear at the hearing on March 30, 2009.   

            3.         The Respondent, Deborah Culler, holds an on-premises beer and wine permit for Monticello Party Pack, 6037 Monticello Road, Columbia, SC 29203.  This location is not licensed to sell liquor.   

            4.         South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Agent James R. Causey conducted an alcohol inspection of Respondent’s location on October 2, 2008, at approximately 12:05 p.m. 

            5.         Upon entering the location, Agent Causey greeted the employee operating the location and explained that he was conducting an alcohol inspection. 

            6.         Agent Causey entered the kitchen and bar area to inspect the beer and wine permit.  While in the kitchen and bar area, Agent Causey found a plastic case containing 33 minibottles underneath the cash register.  The 33 minibottles included three Crown Royal, one Patron, two Courvoisier, four E&J, nine Canadian Club, seven Seagram Gin, and seven Seagram Wild Grape minibottles.  Agent Causey confiscated the minibottles and issued Seizure Report 19664A.  

            7.         Agent Causey issued a violation report to the Respondent for unlawful possession of liquor. 

            8.         The Respondent admitted in her protest that she left the minibottles at the licensed location on October 2, 2008. 

            9.         The Respondent has no previous permit violations. 


            Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact, I conclude the following as a matter of law: 

            1.         S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600 (Supp. 2007) grants jurisdiction to the ALC to hear contested cases under the Administrative Procedures Act. 

            2.         Section 61-2-260 grants the ALC the responsibilities to determine contested matters governing alcoholic beverages, beer, and wine. 

            3.         Permits and licenses issued by this State for the sale of liquor, beer, and wine are not property rights.  They are, rather, privileges granted in the exercise of the State’s police power to be used and enjoyed only so long as the holder complies with the restrictions and conditions governing them.  The ALC, being the tribunal authorized to grant the issuance of a license, is likewise authorized to revoke or suspend the license for cause.  See Feldman v. S.C. Tax Comm’n, 203 S.C. 49, 26 S.E.2d 22 (1943).   

            4.         Section 61-4-580(6) prohibits a permittee licensed only to sell beer and wine from knowingly possessing alcoholic liquors on the licensed premises. 

            5.         “Knowingly” includes not only actual knowledge of a fact, but also situations where a person has such information or the circumstances are such, as would lead a prudent person to form a belief as to the fact, and if followed by inquiry would have disclosed its character.  State v. Thompkins, 263 S.C. 472, 211 S.E.2d 549 (1975); Feldman v. South Carolina Tax Comm’n; and Daley v. Ward, 303 S.C. 81, 399 S.E.2d 13 (Ct. App. 1990).      

            6.         The Respondent clearly violated § 61-4-580(6).  The 33 minibottles found by SLED Agent Causey were located on Respondent’s premises.  The Respondent admitted in her protest that she placed the minibottles in the permitted location.    

            7.         Where the General Assembly authorizes a range of alternatives for an administratively imposed penalty, the administrative fact-finder may set the amount of the penalty after a hearing on the dispute.  Walker v. South Carolina ABC Comm’n, 305 S.C. 209, 407 S.E.2d 633 (1991).  Here, the Department, and therefore the ALC, has jurisdiction to “revoke or suspend permits authorizing the sale of beer or wine.”  S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-590 (Supp. 2007).  Furthermore, for violation of § 61-4-580(6), the Department, and therefore the ALC, may impose a monetary penalty upon the holder of a beer and wine permit in lieu of a suspension or revocation. 

            8.         South Carolina Revenue Procedure #04-4 suggests a penalty in the amount of $500.00 for a first violation.  Although the Revenue Procedure is not binding on the Court, I find those guidelines appropriate in this case and therefore find that a $500.00 penalty should be imposed for this violation. 

            9.         Additionally, S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-2610 (Supp. 2007), entitled “Further Penalties,” provides that a person in possession of alcoholic liquors in violation of the laws of this State “must be required to pay a penalty of twenty dollars per container.”  In accordance with the mandates of this statute, I further find that the Respondent must pay a penalty of $20.00 per bottle, for a total of $660.00.      



            Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law,

            IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Respondent pay a monetary penalty of $1,160.00 to the South Carolina Department of Revenue within thirty (30) days from the date of this Order. 



                                                                                    Marvin F. Kittrell

                                                                                    Chief Administrative Law Judge



Columbia, South Carolina

April 22, 2009


Brown Bldg.






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