The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) utilizes a multi-pronged approach to prevent underage drinking in the District through:
- Education to minors at local colleges, universities and youth groups;
- Information sharing with program partners, including those at local colleges and universities; and
- Sale-to-minor compliance checks at alcohol-licensed establishments in the District.
District law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to individuals under the age of 21. In addition, District alcoholic beverage licensees and their staff are required to take reasonable steps to prevent the sale of alcoholic beverages to underage individuals. Laws 25-781 and 25-783 are provided online.
DC: Double Check 101
ABRA created the DC: Double Check 101 program in 2009 as a means to preventing underage drinking in the District.
Under the program, ABRA partners with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA), American University, Catholic University, Gallaudet University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, Trinity Washington University and the University of the District of Columbia.
As part of the program, ABRA provides informational sessions at local colleges and universities in addition to youth groups to educate minors about the effects of alcohol and the risks that can be associated with underage and binge drinking. ABRA also provides alcohol awareness and ID compliance training to District alcohol licensees and their staff.
ABRA meets regularly with DC: Double Check 101 partners, which provide the agency with informational tips on liquor stores, taverns, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. that are suspected of selling alcohol to minors. ABRA utilizes this information to target these establishments for investigations.
ABRA Compliance Checks
ABRA routinely conducts sale-to-minor investigations at alcohol-licensed establishments across the District to monitor compliance with the law.
As part of this, ABRA investigators check the IDs of patrons. In addition, ABRA works with minors that are trained to assist investigators with sale-to-minor compliance checks.
During these compliance checks, minors attempt to purchase alcohol at restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, liquor stores, grocery stores, etc. If the minor is asked to present ID by the establishment, the minor will present his or her real ID with his or her legal age on it. If the minor is asked how old he or she is, the minor is required to respond with his or her legal age. In other words, the minors provide accurate information and do not attempt to deceive the establishment about their age.
If the minor is sold an alcoholic beverage at an establishment, the minor does not drink the beverage. An ABRA investigator would provide the owner and/or ABC manager with a notice informing them of the violation.
A sale-to-minor violation is documented as a case report and a hearing would be scheduled before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board). The Board has the authority to issue fines, penalties, suspensions or revoke the liquor license of an establishment for selling alcohol to a minor.
Comprehensive alcohol laws and regulations are available on ABRA's website.