Hey kids: the Maui County Department of Liquor Control’s Annual Report for fiscal year 2006 is out! Seriously, this year’s edition—with a bright green cover—is full of fun and interesting facts about our LC. What’s more, when you place it next to the 2005 and 2004 reports (which sported red and yellow covers, respectively), a unique picture emerges—one of a department that is both swinging the fine-and-suspension hammer less on licensees while at the same time becoming far more aggressive in its investigations.
In fiscal year 2006, the LC’s Board of Adjudication levied $40,150 in fines on liquor licensees for various infractions. This seems like a lot, but it pales before the 2005 figure of $149,800 (the year the Hyatt alone racked up $50,000 in fines on 25 separate counts of serving minors) and even 2004, which saw $64,700 in fines.
Much of the reason for the lower fine figure is simply that there weren’t as many cases going before the Adjudication Board. In 2006, the department handed down just 62 complaint and accusation cases, compared with 106 in 2005 and 65 in 2004.
Yet at the same time, the output from the LC’s enforcement division has just about exploded. In 2004, the department investigated 2,656 cases. That number climbed to 2,860 the next year. But this year, the Annual Report shows the LC conducted an amazing 3,623 investigations—nearly a thousand more than that of just two years before.
The number of “special monthly checks” has risen dramatically as well. This year, there were 2,040 of those, up from 1,512 the year before and just 1,329 in 2004.
The end result is a bit unsettling: this year saw fewer bar and restaurant owners having to explain alleged violations before the Board of Adjudication, but a huge increase in the number of bartenders, servers and managers questioned by LC investigators.