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Administrative Hearing Process

1. If there is a violation…

  • The Standard Penalty Chart suggests a fine, suspension, or cancellation of license/permit.
  • The penalty depends on whether it is a first, second, or third/subsequent violation.
  • Deviations from penalty chart are based on aggravating or ameliorating circumstances.
  • There are other creative ways to change behavior:
    • Cancel late hours permit / Hire security staff
    • Require training / TABC certification
    • Minimum age for patrons / Minimize drink promotions / Reduce capacity
  • Option A: Waive right to hearing and settle case.

    • Settlement negotiations take place with the local TABC office.
    • If those negotiations fail, settlement negotiations take place with the Captain.
    • If the case is not settled, it is referred to TABC Legal Division in Houston or Austin. A Notice of Violation is issued.
    • At that point, settlement negotiations take place with a TABC attorney.
    • In lieu of agreeing to settle the case, the permittee always has the right to request a State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) hearing.
  • Option B: Request a SOAH Hearing.

    • A case is scheduled for hearing with SOAH usually within 10-12 weeks, depending on the location.
    • The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may suggest a mediation session prior to conducting a hearing.
    • The ALJ has at least 60 days to issue a Proposal for Decision (PFD) once the record is closed.
    • Each party has 15 days to file exceptions to an adverse decision.
    • The other side has 15 days to respond to exceptions.
    • The ALJ has 30 days to respond to exceptions and perhaps change the proposal.

2. TABC Executive Director/Designee

  • The TABC Executive Director (or designee) makes a decision and signs the Order timely (but no time limit).
  • The Executive Director makes a decision based only on what is in the record – no live testimony.
  • Both parties have 25 days to file a Motion for Rehearing to reconsider the decision.
  • The Executive Director has 55 days from notice date of the Order to rule on a Motion for Rehearing or it is overruled by Operation of Law.
  • The Executive Director may extend the 55 days to up to 100 days if requested and agreed to in writing.
  • If a protestant's motion for rehearing is denied, the decision becomes final. The permit/license is granted and the protest case is closed.

3. District Court

  • If a permit holder's motion for rehearing is denied, the permittee/licensee has 30 days to appeal to District Court.
  • The District Court has 20 days to set the case for hearing.
  • The District Court is required to rule within those 20 days.

4. Court of Appeals / Supreme Court

  • After a District Court ruling, either side has 30 days to take the case to a Texas Court of Appeals.
  • After the Court of Appeals ruling, either side can take it to the Texas Supreme Court.


  • A protest is a written allegation that legal grounds exist to justify the denial of an original or renewal application for a license or permit.
  • A protest may be filed upon notice of a new application or within 60 days of renewal.
  • The protest form can be downloaded from the TABC website.
  • A protest hearing on a beer license is held before the county judge (or designee) in the county of the location.
  • A protest hearing on a liquor permit or private club is held before SOAH.
  • The administrative process is largely the same as any other contested case.

Frequently asked questions about protests.

Contact Information and Resources

General Information (E-mail)
Standard Penalty Chart
Public Inquiry System
Previous Proposals for Decision