ABRA's Last Call Newsletter: November/December 2017 Edition

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Last Call Newsletter

November-December 2017

New Alcohol Laws Proposed

Washington Nationals Stadium

New ways of doing business could be on the horizon for District alcohol licensees if a proposed bill introduced by Mayor Muriel Bowser is passed. The legislation—titled The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2017—would need the approval of the District of Columbia Council and the Mayor’s signature in addition to undergoing a 30-day Congressional review period before becoming effective.

Under the proposal, a number of businesses would be able to extend hours for the 2018 MLB All-Star Game and FIFA World Cup events taking place next year. The city will be center stage when the District of Columbia hosts the All-Star Game for the first time in decades. Under the legislation, on-premises retailers, manufacturers and temporary license holders would be able to sell and serve alcohol until 4 a.m. and operate 24 hours a day from July 14-18, 2018. In addition, patrons would be able to watch live soccer games as they occur overseas for the World Cup events at registered restaurants, taverns, hotels and other on-premises establishments beginning at 7 a.m. throughout the month of matches. World Cup events are scheduled to run from June 14, 2018 through July 15, 2018.

Another provision of the bill would address concerns heard from businesses as well as parents running errands with babies and children. Under current law, anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from entering liquor stores during school hours. The bill proposes allowing children and others under 18 to enter liquor stores with a parent or guardian present. 

Other items in the bill would expand how licensees can provide their products to customers. Similar to a law enacted last year that allowed grocery stores to sell growlers of beer, wine, cider and mead, the proposed bill would permit beer and wine stores (class B off-premises retailers) to do the same.

The bill would also expand doggy bag and gift bag permissions beyond restaurants. The legislation proposes allowing hotels to reseal a bottle of wine for a customer, which they can then take home with them in a doggy bag. The bag would need to have a dated receipt attached to it and must be closed in a manner that would make it easy to notice if the container were opened or tampered with. 

The proposed bill would also permanently exempt taverns, multipurpose facilities, liquor stores and beer and wine stores located in the Southwest Waterfront from the 400-foot licensing restriction from schools and other facilities. The same measure had been approved this year on an emergency and temporary basis. Without such an exemption, alcohol licenses are prohibited from being issued in the Southwest Waterfront development because these establishments would be located within 400 feet of two school facilities.                            

Among the proposed enforcement measures in the bill, liquor stores, grocery stores and other off-premises retailers with security cameras would be required to provide footage to Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigators or Metropolitan Police Department officers upon request. Another item would require an applicant for a liquor license to take pictures of posted placards and to provide copies of the pictures to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board upon request. In addition, there would be changes to how the penalties for sale-to-minor violations and ID-check failures are determined.

The complete bill can be reviewed online. Stay tuned for updates on the legislation in ABRA’s Last Call newsletter. 

IDs: When Vertical but Still Valid

Vertical DC ID

In 1994, the Colorado state legislature adopted a measure that required the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to issue vertically formatted driver’s licenses and ID cards to anyone under 21 years old in order to combat underage drinking. Fast forward to 2017 when more than two-thirds of states across the country have since followed suit, including the District of Columbia.

The vertical design was intended to help document checkers at bars, restaurants and other age-restricted venues to more easily identify minors by distinguishing their IDs from conventional horizontal layouts.

All vertical driver’s licenses and ID cards issued by U.S. states and jurisdictions indicate that the document was issued to a minor. However, a vertical ID doesn’t necessarily mean that the person presenting it is, in fact, still under 21 years of age. Many states issue vertical licenses for terms longer than a minor’s 21st birthday. In some jurisdictions, a vertical license marked “under 21” may be valid for years after the holder’s 21st birthday.

Licensees and their staff are encouraged to give the same extra scrutiny to checking vertical IDs as their horizontal counterparts. After verifying the birthdate, it is also important to check the expiration date to verify whether the ID is still valid. In addition, examine the presenter and compare him or her against the image in the document and review the biographic information to determine if there are any significant discrepancies. Although a vertical license may still be valid, genuine under 21 documents are often passed on to other minors when the original ID holder turns 21 and applies for a new license.

    Ward 4 Grocery Store Bill Update


    New or renovated full-service grocery stores could soon be selling beer and wine in Ward 4 under proposed legislation that unanimously passed its first reading before the District of Columbia Council on Nov. 7.

    Under current law, new alcohol licenses cannot be issued to liquor stores or beer and wine stores in the area, with one exception. New or renovated full-service grocery stores—which are required to meet a host of criteria—that are located within Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C07 can obtain a license to sell beer and wine, so long as the store does not devote more than 3,000 square feet of space to alcoholic beverage sales.

    The proposed bill would expand the exemption to include any full-service grocery store located in Ward 4 for the issuance of a class B off-premises retailer’s license. The measure would also eliminate any restrictions on the amount of space a Ward 4 grocery store can dedicate to alcoholic beverage sales. 

    In addition, the proposal would allow new or renovated grocery stores in Ward 4 to sell growlers of beer and wine. The stores would still be prohibited from selling single containers of beer, malt liquor or ale in sizes of 70 ounces or less.

    Full-service grocery stores are defined by District law as licensed grocery stores that offer a full line of food products, including products from at least 6 of 7 required categories, and provide those products in a required amount of dedicated selling space. 

    A complete list of requirements is available online.

    2018 Extended Holiday Hours


    New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Restaurants, bars and other on-premises establishments that want to host New Year's Eve events until 4 a.m. on the next morning but have not yet signed up for the Extended Holiday Hours Program will need to register by Dec. 1 to participate.

    Any licensee registered for the program during 2017 will be automatically eligible to participate in the program during 2018. A list of registered establishments as of this Thanksgiving is available on Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration’s (ABRA) website. 

    Next year, licensees enrolled in the program will be able to stay open later during 11 District and Federal holidays, which includes three separate three-day holiday weekends. The complete 2018 calendar can be reviewed on ABRA's website.

    On-premises establishments can register for the program by submitting a registration form and public safety plan to ABRA at least 30 days prior to the first holiday a licensee would like to participate in. Once a licensee is registered and approved, the registration will be valid for the calendar year and each year thereafter. There is no fee to enroll. Complete details are available online.

    Licensees that have questions can contact ABRA's Licensing Division by emailing or calling (202) 442-4423.

    New Forms Available

    Import Transport Form

    The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has two re-designed forms available. Licensees should use the new import-transport permit form and safekeeping application that are now available on ABRA’s website and at the agency’s office.

    An import-transport permit is required for any restaurant, tavern, liquor store, grocery store or other District alcohol-licensed retailer that is importing alcoholic beverages into the District of Columbia. Alcohol may only be imported by a retailer when the product cannot be obtained—or obtained in sufficient quantity—from a District wholesaler or manufacturer. 

    In order to apply, a retailer can fill out the form online, print out two copies, and submit it in person to ABRA's office. There is a $5 fee for a single permit, which is required to accompany the transport of the alcoholic beverages.

    The other form is for the safekeeping of a license. It should be submitted for any alcohol license that is temporarily discontinued for any reason. Most licenses are put into safekeeping as a result of damages to an establishment; undergoing renovations; or when a business is moving to a new location.

    Any business with a liquor license being held in safekeeping will need to request an extension for the safekeeping by the following deadlines each year in order to maintain safekeeping status:

    • March 31; and
    • September 30.

    There are fees for placing a license in safekeeping, which are additional to initial and renewal license fees. All regular annual license fees and renewal fees must be paid in addition to safekeeping fees or the license could be canceled.

    Attend Upcoming ABRA Trainings

    The Wharf

    The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has a host of upcoming free trainings for licensees.

    Licensee Orientation Training

    ABRA has added another Licensee Orientation Training to its schedule this year to accommodate the many licensees opening new businesses at the Wharf. All new and existing licensees throughout the District are also invited to attend. Training will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4.

    Training will cover District alcohol laws and regulations (including recent changes to the law), tips for working effectively with the community, settlement agreements, expectations of licensees and best practices, as well as noise abatement and sound management.

    Register online or contact ABRA Community Resource Officer Sarah Fashbaugh by Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 by emailing or calling (202) 397-3971.

    Attendance for this class is strongly recommended for new license holders. Training is free of charge. Requests for interpreters may be made but must be submitted by the registration deadline.

    Books and Records Training

    Hotel and restaurant licensees are invited to attend ABRA's Books and Records Training on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 at either:

    • 9-11 a.m. (Spanish interpreter available); or
    • 2-4 p.m. (Korean interpreter available).

    Training will cover food sales requirements and reporting; quarterly statement filings; and books and records tracking.

    Register online or contact ABRA Compliance Analyst Monica Clark by emailing or calling (202) 442-4438.

    Training Locations

    All trainings are free of charge and located at ABRA's office at 2000 14th St., NW, Suite 400 South, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20009.

    Sunday Holiday Hours for Off-Premises Retailers

    Beer and wine stores as well as liquor stores will be able to stay open until midnight during two upcoming Sundays even if they do not have licensing approval for Sunday sales.

    Under the law, all off-premises retailers (class A and B) can sell and deliver alcohol from 7 a.m.-midnight on Sunday, Dec. 24 and Sunday, Dec. 31. Any licensee with an Alcoholic Beverage Control Board order or settlement agreement restricting hours during these times would not be permitted to participate. The complete law is available in section 722 of the District of Columbia Official Code Title 25 (page 86).

    Licensees that have questions can contact the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration for more information by emailing abra@dc.gov or calling (202) 442-4423.