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DC Liquor Laws – Drinking Laws and Regulations


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It is illegal in every state for persons under the age of 21 to purchase and publicly possess alcoholic beverages. The hours that alcohol may be purchased or served, and other laws related to liquor consumption vary from state to state. Here is an overview of DC's Liquor Laws.

  • Liquor can be served by a licensed business from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Monday - Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. on Sundays. The day before a federal holiday, alcohol may be served from 8 a.m. – 3 a.m. On January 1 (New Year's Eve), liquor may be served from 8 a.m. – 4 a.m.
  • Off-premises retailers may sell liquor from 9 am – 10 pm daily.
  • A person must be at least 18 years old to serve or sell alcoholic beverages and at least 21 years old to be a bartender.
  • A customer must produce valid I.D. if asked by the establishment to show it in order to be served alcohol.
  • It is illegal to use a fake I.D. to purchase liquor. An underage person who tries to buy liquor with a fake I.D. could be subject to a fine and have driving privileges suspended.
  • It is illegal to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in public space that is not part of an ABC-licensed establishment. An individual who breaks this law can be prosecuted and punished by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail.
If you are interested in obtaining a DC Liquor License, you can find all the requirements, types of liquor licenses available, and the forms for application at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration website.

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