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ABC Board Orders Online Vendor to Cease and Desist

Thursday, June 26, 2014
Engaging in the solicitation and sale of alcoholic beverages without a license in D.C. illegal.

(WASHINGTON, DC.) – The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) is notifying online businesses that it is illegal to engage in the solicitation, sale and delivery of alcoholic beverages in the District as a third party vendor without a license.

A cease-and-desist order was issued by the Board yesterday to online proprietor Ultra for illegally selling alcoholic beverages in the District without a license. As part of the order, Ultra must immediately stop alcoholic beverage sales in DC.

An investigation of Ultra by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) found that the business solicits alcoholic beverage orders and takes credit card information from consumers for the sale and delivery of alcoholic beverage products. Ultra collects the money directly from the customer in addition to a five dollar delivery fee. The money is then forwarded to the licensee, minus an agreed upon percentage that Ultra retains.

Under District law, no person is permitted to sell—which includes soliciting orders for sale—any alcoholic beverage without the proper license to do so. The Board issued an advisory opinion (Board Order No. 2013-062) last year related to the operations of a similar online business, which had consistent findings.

Not all online liquor sales are illegal in the District. Liquor stores that have alcoholic beverage licenses are currently permitted to conduct online sales and deliveries in DC.

Licensees or businesses that have questions can email or call ABRA at 202-442-4423. Complete District alcoholic beverage laws and regulations are available on ABRA’s website.