ABRA Last Call Newsletter: January-February 2016

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ABC Licenses Due for Renewal by March 31

March 31, 2016

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) is kicking off its busiest license renewal season this week by mailing applications to more than 1,100 businesses.

All alcohol-licensed restaurants, hotels, theaters, museums, trains, boats, clubs and caterers in the District are due to renew licenses no later than Thursday, March 31. Affected businesses should check their mail the week of Feb. 8 for renewal applications.

“More than half of all alcoholic beverage licenses will need to be renewed by the end of next month,” said ABRA Director Fred Moosally. “We strongly encourage businesses to turn in completed applications as soon as possible. This will help both business owners and the agency to avoid long lines at the end of March.”

In an effort to make the renewal process more convenient for licensees, ABRA will be providing additional office hours on Saturdays during the month of March for renewals to be completed. As a result, licenses can be renewed any time before March 31 during the following hours:

  • 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; and
  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Renewals may only be completed in person at ABRA’s office, which is located at:

  • 2000 14th St., NW, 4th Floor, Suite 400 South, Washington DC 20009.

Applications not returned by the required deadline will be subject to a late fee beginning Friday, April 1 of $50 per day—not to exceed the cost of the license—and cancellation.

Alcoholic beverage licenses are required to be renewed every three years with all licenses of the same type expiring on the same date. The next sets of licenses requiring renewal will be all taverns and nightclubs, which will be due by Friday, Sept. 30. ABRA will mail renewal notices to taverns and nightclubs in mid-August. A complete schedule of license renewals can be reviewed on ABRA’s website.

More details on license renewals are also available online. Licensees that have questions can contact ABRA by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.

Check Your Mail for Annual Payment Notices Mid-February


Annual payment notices will be hitting the mail in mid-February.

Several hundred businesses that pay for liquor licenses on an annual basis are due to make payment to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) by Thursday, March 31. Businesses that are due to make payments include:

  • Liquor stores (retailer's licenses class A)
  • Distilleries (manufacturer's licenses class A)
  • Breweries (manufacturer's licenses class B)
  • Wholesalers (class A licenses only)

ABRA will mail a payment notice to a licensee's mailing address on file. 

Licensing fees should be paid on time. A late fee of $50 per day will be assessed for any late payments, which may not exceed the cost of the license. Licensees that have questions can contact ABRA by email or (202) 442-4423.

Attend Georgetown Moratorium Zone Hearing Feb. 24


A hearing will be held by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) to receive public comment on the future of the Georgetown Moratorium Zone. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration's office.  

Georgetown's moratorium has been in effect for about 27 years and is currently set to expire on April 9. It was extended beyond its original expiration of Feb. 3 after the Board adopted emergency rules on Dec. 9, 2015

Several restrictions currently apply within the Georgetown Moratorium Zone, which extends approximately 1,800 feet in all directions from the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and N St., NW, including:

  • No new retailer's licenses class C or D may be issued to a tavern or nightclub.
  • No retailer's licenses class C may be issued to a multipurpose facility.
  • No more than 68 retailer’s licenses class C or D may be issued to restaurants.
  • No more than 1 retailer’s license class D may be issued to a multipurpose facility.
  • A license holder outside of the Georgetown Moratorium Zone is not permitted to transfer a license to a location within the zone.

All hotels and establishments located in or to be located in Georgetown Park, Georgetown Park II, Prospect Place Mall, Georgetown Court and Washington Harbor are exempt from the moratorium. Complete terms can be reviewed in section 305 of Title 23.

Members of the public that want to attend the hearing or provide comment can learn more details on ABRA's website.

Provide Input on Pub Crawl Regulations March 2

Pub Crawl

A host of new rules are in effect for pub crawls in the District that impact alcohol-licensed establishments as well as pub crawl organizers and promoters. 

While the new rules were adopted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) on an emergency basis through May 13, the Board will hold a hearing to obtain public comment from businesses and the community on adopting the regulations permanently. The Board's hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2. Visit ABRA's website for complete details

Alcohol-licensed establishments are currently required to comply with the following rules regarding pub crawls:

  • Prohibited from participating in more than one pub crawl event at one time.
  • Prohibited from participating in an unlicensed pub crawl and responsible for verifying whether a pub crawl is licensed by the Board.
  • Prohibited from participating in a pub crawl if the establishment has more than two primary-tier violations within two years of the scheduled date of the event.
  • Prohibited from participating in a pub crawl if the terms of its settlement agreement or a Board order restrict participation.
  • Required to have food available for purchase during the hours of the pub crawl if the alcoholic beverage license requires the establishment to sell food.
  • Required to post—in a conspicuous place for the duration of the pub crawl—a copy of the organizer’s license for each event participated. 

A pub crawl organizer or promoter is required to obtain approval from the Board to hold a pub crawl in the District if it includes more than 200 people. New regulations require the following of organizers and promoters:

1. At least 45 days prior to a pub crawl event, complete and submit a pub crawl application to the
    Board and Metropolitan Police Department and include the:

  • Names and addresses of all licensed establishments which are expected to participate;
  • Geographic area where the event will take place;
  • Anticipated number and maximum number of participants;
  • Actual hours of the event;
  • Operational plan and security plan that include at minimum:
    - Name(s) and number(s) of security personnel contracted for the event;
    Plans for controlling underage drinking; and
    - Method to be used for checking participants’ IDs.
  • Plan for litter prevention, control and removal that includes:
    - Proof of signed contracts between the organizer/promoter and litter removal vendors; and
    - A set timeframe, no later than 12 hours from the conclusion of the event, for litter removal.

2. File a litter removal plan—at least 45 days prior to the event—with the District Department of
    Public Works (DPW). The plan is subject to DPW approval.
3. Provide proof of payment for litter removal services at least 72 hours from the conclusion of the
    pub crawl event.
4. Post the approved operational and security plans at all designated registration areas.
5. Post the approved pub crawl license at each participating establishment.
6. Provide literature explaining responsible drinking practices at any designated registration area.
7. Be present at the pub crawl event to oversee and manage all activities of the event.
8. Refrain from purchasing or consuming any alcoholic beverages.
9. Include the following in any advertisement or promotional materials:

  • State that, “You must be 21 or older to participate”;
  • Promote the use of public transportation; and
  • Include the plan for a designated driver program for the event.

Promoters and organizers are prohibited from promoting excessive drinking or offering unlimited amounts of drinks for one price (a.k.a. all you can drink). A complete list of rules can be found in the Board’s Notice of Emergency and Proposed Rulemaking.