ABRA's Last Call Newsletter: Aug./Sept. 2018 Edition

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Last Call Newsletter

Aug.-Sept. 2018

2018 Omnibus

The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2018 was approved unanimously on July 10 by the Council of the District of Columbia and transmitted to the Mayor for consideration on Aug. 21. If signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, the bill would make significant changes to alcohol businesses across the city that would improve regulatory compliance measures while easing some restrictions for many ABC licensees. While the bill still requires final approval form the Mayor and a 30-day Congressional review period, the legislation could be on track to become law in the fall later this year. 

The Omnibus bill would allow manufacturers who make beer, wine or spirits to create collaboration products with other manufacturers of the same class. For example, breweries would be allowed to create collaboration beers with other breweries. Only one manufacturer would be required to have its premises in the District and containers of the collaboration product would need to display the names of both manufacturers. Collaboration products not manufactured on the licensed premises would be permitted to be sold for on-premises consumption. Only collaboration beers in growlers would be permitted to be sold for off-premises consumption. Finally, a written agreement between the collaborating manufacturers would need to be stored at the licensed premises in the District. The agreement must be available upon request to Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) investigators during business hours.

The bill would also allow both class A and B off-premises licensees to sell beer or wine in crowlers, with some exceptions. A crowler is defined by the law as a container that is capable of holding up to 64 ounces of beer or wine and is designed to be filled and sealed on-premises for off-premises consumption. Unlike growlers that are made of glass, crowlers are disposable cans. The sale of crowlers is prohibited in some areas as a result of ward-specific single sales moratoriums. 

The bill would also authorize manufacturers to participate in ABRA's Extended Holiday Hours, Inaugural Week and other types of extended hours programs available to other licensees. It would also allow manufacturers to sell and deliver alcohol produced at their licensed establishment directly to consumers. A holder of a manufacturer’s license would also be permitted to file for a one-day substantial change permit up to 12 times per calendar year, allowing for the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages for a specific event (class A and B off-premises licensees would be provided a similar option up to six times per calendar year). 

The legislation would also amend requirements for security cameras installed by off-premises retailers due to a security plan or a settlement agreement. It would permit hotels to allow customers to remove one partially-consumed bottle of wine for consumption off-premises. It would allow bed and breakfast licensees to obtain entertainment, dancing, cover charge, summer garden and sidewalk café endorsements. Farmer’s market licenses would be valid for one year instead of 6 months, but these licensees would need to hold at least 6 markets within a one year period. Additionally, class C manufacturers would be able to utilize a portion of their licensed premises for the sampling of alcohol-infused confectionery food products.

For the full details on each of these proposed changes and others, please review the Omnibus bill in its entirety and its current status.


District ABC licensees registered in the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration's (ABRA) Extended Holiday Hours program now gain five additional days of extended hours eligibility in 2018 and nine days in 2019 due to legislation signed this month. On Aug. 1, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2018 (B22-0901), which added the Saturday and Sunday mornings of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday, Washington's Birthday and Columbus Day holiday weekends to the program, as well as the Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings following Thanksgiving Day. 

Please review ABRA's updated Extended Holiday Hours program 2018 calendar and FAQ/Fact Sheet reflecting these changes. The Extended Holiday Hours program allows eligible ABC licensed restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, hotels and multipurpose facilities to sell and serve alcohol until 4:00 a.m. and operate 24 hours a day during certain federal holidays and three-day holiday weekends, unless an ABC Board Order or Settlement Agreement restricts hours. 

Licensees are required to register with ABRA to participate. Once a licensee is registered and approved for extended holiday hours, the registration is valid for all remaining applicable holidays that year and each year thereafter.

In order to enroll in the Extended Holiday Hours program for the first time, an ABC licensee must submit a notification form and public safety plan to ABRA at least 30 days before the first holiday an establishment would like to participate in. There is no fee to apply. If you have additional questions, contact ABRA at (202) 442-4423 or by email.

street harass

The Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2018 (B22-0901) signed on Aug. 1 contained "The Street Harassment Prevention Emergency Act of 2018," which creates an advisory committee that will develop policies, guidelines and procedures to be adopted by District agencies for preventing and responding to street harassment. The Act defines "Street harassment" as disrespectful, offensive, or threatening statements, gestures or other conduct directed at an individual in a high-risk area without the individual's consent and based on the individual's actual or perceived ethnicity or housing status, or a protected trait identified in the Human Rights Act of 1977. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration will be a participating member in the committee. 

The committee will conduct surveys to collect data in order to determine the pervasiveness of street harassment and then create street harassment awareness programs to mitigate the problem. It will propose model policies and training materials to be adopted by District agencies and public-facing employees. The committee will also propose strategies to improve public awareness and understanding of street harassment issues. Finally, the committee will look at developing a process by which victims and witnesses of street harassment can report instances to District agencies.


Last year, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a significant modification to District driver's licenses and ID cards that all ABC licensees and ABC managers should be aware of. Beginning in June 2017, gender-neutral identifiers became an option available to non-binary District residents on their IDs. Previously, identity documents issued by the District Department of Motor Vehicles displayed either "M" or "F" markings. Since the change went into effect, those who do not identify as either male or female may self-certify their gender using the non-binary indicator, "X."

ABC licensees and managers should be aware that the “X” has been applied to the section labeled “sex” on the lower, left-hand side of driver's licenses and ID cards for those non-binary residents. District-issued credentials with the gender-neutral identifier are printed on the current Cherry Blossom format featured above and list the jurisdictional name as "Washington, DC."


On Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) approved emergency rules that extend the current Adams Morgan neighborhood liquor license moratorium by 120 days. The existing Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone was set to expire on Aug. 27, 2018, but the Board recently received two resolutions regarding the moratorium that it believes merit further evaluation, one from the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District and the second from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C. 

After receiving these resolutions, the Board voted 6-0 to extend the existing Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone on an emergency basis to avoid its expiration and to hold a public hearing, per District lawThe emergency rules will expire on Dec. 13, 2018.

Current rules that limit the number of alcoholic beverage licenses that can be issued in the Adams Morgan neighborhood are as follows:

The existing Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone extends approximately 1,400 feet in all directions from the intersection of Belmont Road and 18th Street, NW. It stipulates that within this zone, no new licenses can be issued for taverns and multipurpose facilities, no nightclub licenses are permitted and no more than 10 licenses issued for taverns and multipurpose facilities can exist. It also prohibits restaurants holding a license within the zone from changing license class unless there are fewer than 10 taverns and multipurpose facilities within the zone. Additionally, a license holder outside of the zone is not permitted to transfer its license to a location within the zone unless it is a restaurant, hotel or off-premises retailer. Restaurants, hotels and off-premises retailers (class A and B) are exempt from the terms of the Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone. 

The Board has yet to finalize a hearing date to determine whether or not to extend the Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone, but the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration will send notice when it does. Complete details on moratoriums may be reviewed in both DC Official Code Title 25 Chapter 3 and DC Municipal Regulations Title 23 Section 303, as found in the ABC Laws and Regulations.


Taverns, nightclubs and class B retailers and wholesalers that pay for liquor licenses on an annual basis are due to make their third annual payments to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) by Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. 

Payment notices were mailed out to licensees no later than Aug. 15.

Payment may be mailed or delivered in person to ABRA's office at:

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

Licensing fees should be paid on time. Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 2, 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.


Alcoholic Beverage Control licensed restaurants and hotels are required to file quarterly statements with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) by Tuesday, Oct. 30. Statements are to report last July-Sept. gross sales receipts for food and alcohol as well as total expenses for the purchase of food and alcohol. 

Under the law, restaurants and hotels with a class C license are required to meet annual gross food sales of $2,000 per occupant or 45% of annual gross receipts. For a class D license, restaurants and hotels are required to meet annual gross food sales of $1,500 per occupant or 45% of annual gross receipts. 

Hotel sales requirements are based on dining room occupancy. Quarterly statements may be reported online or with a printed form. Instructions are available on ABRA's website for completing the form.


Under the District's Extended Holiday Hours program, 210 restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels are registered to sell and serve alcohol an hour later on the nights of Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, for the Labor Day Holiday Weekend. 

Licensees registered for the program must end alcohol service by 4:00 a.m. each morning, unless an enrolled establishment is required by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to close earlier. Click here for a list of registered establishments and an interactive map of where they are located.

While the deadline has passed to register for Labor Day extended hours, there is still time for establishments to sign up for the Columbus Day holiday weekend. An on-premises licensee that is interested in participating in the program can apply by submitting a registration form at least 30 days prior to the first holiday an applicant wants to participate in. Once a licensee is registered for the program, the establishment is eligible to participate each year thereafter. 

Licensees with settlement agreements or Board orders restricting closing hours may not be eligible to participate.

Complete details are available on ABRA's website.


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

Books and Records Training

Books and Records Video

Hotel and restaurant licensees are invited to attend ABRA's Books and Records Training.

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

Training sessions will be held on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 at either:

  • 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (Spanish interpreter available); or
  • 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Korean interpreter available).

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

Community Training

comm training vid

Residents and community organizations are invited to attend ABRA’s community training from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018

The training will cover District alcohol laws, protest processes, filing settlement agreements, and ABRA resources and hearing processes.

Members of the community can register online or contact ABRA Community Resource Officer Sarah Fashbaugh by email or by calling (202) 397-3971. RSVP by Friday, Sept. 14, 2018

Training Location

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.