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New District Alcohol Law in Effect Today

Friday, April 7, 2017

(Washington, DC)  A new alcohol law is in effect beginning today that creates new ways of doing business for District alcohol manufacturers and retailers.

“This new law allows District businesses to expand areas of their operations consistent with other jurisdictions,” said Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Director Fred Moosally. “It also clarifies existing law for licensees and the public. We greatly appreciate Mayor Muriel Bowser’s introduction and support of the legislation.”

The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-260) makes a variety of new licenses available to businesses. It creates a new bed and breakfast license that is the first of its kind in the District. The license permits an inn that has fewer than 30 guest rooms to serve alcohol to registered guests as part of a room fee. Another measure in the law allows for hotels in the District to apply for an off-premises license to sell beer and wine to guests from a store inside of the hotel. Previously, hotels in the District could generally only sell alcohol to guests from restaurants, bars or minibars. The legislation also makes additional licenses available for beer and wine stores in the District.

Businesses can also expand the types of containers they offer under the new law. Grocery stores are now able to sell wine, cider, and mead in growlers for the first time instead of only beer. In addition, restaurants and taverns that brew beer—known as brew pubs—can sell the beer they manufacture in cans, kegs, bottles and other sealed containers for customers to take home. Brew pubs were previously only permitted to sell beer in growlers. The law also allows a distillery or winery to sell its products in cans and kegs instead of only barrels and bottles.

Acceptable forms of identification were also expanded by the legislation. Official military identification cards can now be accepted by businesses as long as the card contains the name, date of birth, and a photograph of the bearer.

Another item in the legislation removes a requirement that cocktails served by a distillery primarily contain the distiller's spirits over any other brand. As a result, a distillery can now freely mix cocktails containing its brand of spirits with other brands as long as they have the proper license to do so.

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill on Feb. 15. The bill went into effect today after a 30-day Congressional review period. Complete details of the legislation can be reviewed online.