Code of the District of Columbia

§ 25–781. Sale to minors or intoxicated persons prohibited.

(a) The sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages to the following persons is prohibited:

(1) A person under 21 years of age, either for the person’s own use or for the use of any other person, except as provided in § 25-784(b);

(2) An intoxicated person, or any person who appears to be intoxicated; or

(3) A person of notoriously intemperate habits.

(b) A retail licensee shall not permit at the licensed establishment the consumption of an alcoholic beverage by any of the following persons:

(1) A person under 21 years of age;

(2) An intoxicated person, or any person who appears to be intoxicated; or

(3) A person of notoriously intemperate habits.

(c) A licensee or other person shall not, at a licensed establishment, give, serve, deliver, or in any manner dispense an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years of age, except as provided in § 25-784(b).

(d) A licensee shall not be liable to any person for damages claimed to arise from refusal to sell an alcoholic beverage or refusal to permit the consumption of an alcoholic beverage in its establishment under the authority of this section.

(e) A person alleged to have violated this section may be issued a citation under § 23-1110(b)(1). The person shall not be eligible to forfeit collateral.

(f) For violations of subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section in the preceding 4 years, the penalties shall be the following:

(1) Upon the 1st violation, the Board shall fine the licensee not less than $2,000, and not more than $3,000, and suspend the licensee for 5 consecutive days; provided, that the 5-day suspension may be stayed by the Board for one year if all employees who serve alcoholic beverages in the licensed establishment complete an alcohol training program within 3 months;

(2) Upon the 2nd violation, the Board shall fine the licensee not less than $3,000, and not more than $5,000, and suspend the licensee for 10 consecutive days; provided, that the Board may stay up to 6 days of the 10-day suspension for one year if all employees who serve alcoholic beverages in the licensed establishment complete an alcohol training program within 3 months;

(3) Upon the 3rd violation, the Board shall fine the licensee not less than $5,000, and not more than $10,000, and suspend the licensee for 15 consecutive days, or revoke the license; provided, that the Board may stay up to 5 days of the 15-day suspension for one year if all employees who serve alcoholic beverages in the licensed establishment complete an alcohol training program within 3 months; and

(4) Upon the 4th or subsequent violation, the Board may revoke the license.

(g)(1) In determining whether a licensee has a prior violation for the purposes of subsection (f) of this section, the 4-year period is the 4 years immediately preceding the date of the incident or conduct in the case pending before the Board for which the licensee has been found liable of violating subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section, either by an order of the Board, the Board's acceptance of an offer-in-compromise, or the licensee's payment of a fine.

(2) A prior violation falls within the 4-year period if the date that the licensee was found liable of violating subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section, either by an order of the Board, the Board's acceptance of an offer-in-compromise, or the licensee's payment of a fine, falls within the 4-year period.

(3) For the purposes of this subsection, the term "offer-in-compromise" means a negotiation between the government and the respondent to settle the charges brought by the government for those violations committed by the respondent.


(Jan. 24, 1934, 48 Stat. 331, ch. 4, § 20; Aug. 27, 1935, 49 Stat. 901, ch. 756, § 10; June 29, 1953, 67 Stat. 104, ch. 159, § 404(g); Sept. 29, 1982, D.C. Law 4-157, § 12, 29 DCR 3617; Sept. 26, 1984, D.C. Law 5-106, § 2, 31 DCR 3381; Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-178, § 2(a), 33 DCR 7654; Mar. 7, 1987, D.C. Law 6-217, § 12, 34 DCR 907; Sept. 11, 1993, D.C. Law 10-12,§ 2(c), 40 DCR 4020; May 24, 1994, D.C. Law 10-122, § 2(i), 41 DCR 1658; May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959; Oct. 1, 2002, D.C. Law 14-190, § 1702(k), 49 DCR 6968; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-361, § 2(c)(5), 56 DCR 1204; May 2, 2015, D.C. Law 20-270, § 2(e)(8), 62 DCR 1866; Mar. 9, 2016, D.C. Law 21-84, § 2(e)(5), 63 DCR 781; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-260, § 2(f)(6), 64 DCR 2079.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-781.

1973 Ed., § 25-121.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-403 and § 25-830.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-190 added subsec. (e).

D.C. Law 17-361 added subsec. (f).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-270 rewrote (f).

The 2016 amendment by D.C. Law 21-84 added “the penalties shall be the following” in the introductory language of (f); and substituted “4th or subsequent violation” for “4th violation” in (f)(4).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2(c) of the Underage Drinking Emergency Amendment Act of 1994 (D.C. Act 10-236, April 28, 1994, 41 DCR 2601).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of Sale to Minors Penalty Clarification Temporary Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Law 21-147, Aug. 19, 2016, 63 DCR 9284).