Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. Applicant Qualifications.


§ 25–301. General qualifications for all applicants.

(a) Before issuing, transferring to a new owner, or renewing a license, the Board shall determine that the applicant meets all of the following criteria:

(1) The applicant is of good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure.

(2) The applicant is at least 21 years of age.

(3)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, the applicant has not been convicted of a felony in the 10 years before filing the application.

(B) An applicant for a solicitor's license or manager's license has not been convicted of a felony in the 5 years before filing the application.

(4) The applicant has not been convicted of any misdemeanor bearing on fitness for licensure in the 5 years before filing the application.

(5) Except in the case of an application for a solicitor’s or manager’s license, the applicant is the true and actual owner of the establishment for which the license is sought, and he or she intends to carry on the business for himself or herself and not as the agent of any other individual, partnership, association, limited liability company, or corporation not identified in the application.

(6) The licensed establishment will be managed by the applicant in person or by a Board-licensed manager.

(7) The applicant has complied with all the requirements of this title and regulations issued under this title.

(a-1) To determine whether an applicant for a new license meets the criteria of subsection (a)(1) of this section, the Board shall examine records, covering the last 10 years from the date of application, maintained by ABRA regarding prior violations of the District’s alcohol laws and regulations by the applicant or establishments owned or controlled by the applicant.

(b) Notwithstanding § 47-2861(1)(B), the Board shall not issue a license or permit to an applicant if the applicant has failed to file required District tax returns or owes more than $ 100 in outstanding debt to the District as a result of the items specified in § 47-2862(a)(1) through (9), subject to the exceptions specified in § 47-2862(b).

(c) To determine whether an applicant for a new retailer or wholesaler license meets the criteria of subsection (a)(3) and (4) of this section, the Board may obtain criminal history records of criminal convictions maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Metropolitan Police Department. The Board shall:

(1) Inform the applicant that a criminal background check will be conducted;

(2) Obtain written approval from the applicant to conduct a criminal background check;

(3) Coordinate with the Metropolitan Police Department to obtain a set of qualified fingerprints from the applicant; and

(4) Obtain any additional identifying information from the applicant that is required for the Metropolitan Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to complete a criminal background check.

(c-1) The Board, in its discretion, may approve an application for a solicitor's license or manager's license for an applicant who has been convicted of a felony within 5 years of applying for the solicitor's or manager's license if the Board determines that the offense does not have a bearing on the applicant's fitness for licensure.

(d) The Board shall coordinate with the Metropolitan Police Department to adopt procedures necessary to facilitate the objectives of subsections (c) and (c-1) of this section.

(e) The fingerprint card shall not be maintained by the Board or by the Metropolitan Police Department and shall be returned to the applicant after the completion of the criminal background check.

(f) Once notified, the Board shall seal, set aside, expunge, and otherwise maintain any record received pursuant to this section so that the record is in compliance with any order issued by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia pursuant to a sealing, set aside, or expungement statute, including Chapter 8 of Title 16 and Chapter 9 of Title 24. Once notified, the Board shall also seal, set aside, expunge, and otherwise maintain any record received pursuant to this section so that the record is in compliance with any court order or official government request or statement from the jurisdiction that is the source of that record.

(g) The Board shall maintain the confidentiality of any information returned from the Metropolitan Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and use such information only for the purpose of determining whether the applicant satisfies the criteria set forth in subsection (a)(3) and (4) of this section.


(Jan. 24, 1934, 48 Stat. 327, ch. 4, § 14; Aug. 25, 1937, 50 Stat. 802, 803, ch. 766, §§ 1, 2; June 15, 1938, 52 Stat. 691, ch. 396, § 3; June 29, 1953, 67 Stat. 103, ch. 159, § 404(e), (f); Aug. 2, 1968, 82 Stat. 616, Pub. L. 90-450, title IV, § 404; Mar. 5, 1981, D.C. Law 3-146, § 4, 27 DCR 4753; Sept. 29, 1982, D.C. Law 4-157, §§ 8, 15, 29 DCR 3617; Mar. 8, 1984, D.C. Law 5-51, § 2(b)(4), (c), 30 DCR 5927; June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-97, § 2, 31 DCR 2556; Mar. 7, 1987, D.C. Law 6-217, § 9, 34 DCR 907; June 5, 1987, D.C. Law 7-7, § 2, 34 DCR 2640; Oct. 3, 1992, D.C. Law 9-174, § 2(b), (c), 39 DCR 5859; May 24, 1994, D.C. Law 10-122, § 2(f), 41 DCR 1658; Apr. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 12-261, § 2003(q)(2), 46 DCR 3142; Oct. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 13-39, § 2, 46 DCR 6548; May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959; Mar. 2, 2007, D.C. Law 16-192, § 1012(a), 53 DCR 6899; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 132, 56 DCR 1117; Nov. 6, 2010, D.C. Law 18-259, § 6, 57 DCR 5591; May 1, 2013, D.C. Law 19-310, § 2(i), 60 DCR 3410; May 2, 2015, D.C. Law 20-270, § 2(b)(1), 62 DCR 1866; Oct. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-165, § 2(c)(1), 65 DCR 9366.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-301.

1973 Ed., § 25-115.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 25-316, § 25-402, § 25-405, § 25-406, and § 25-410.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-192 designated subsec. (a); and added subsec. (b).

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in subsec. (b).

D.C. Law 18-259 added subsecs. (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-310 added (a-1).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-270 designated the existing text as (a); and added (b).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 1012(a) of Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-477, August 8, 2006, 53 DCR 7068).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 1012(a) of Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-499, October 23, 2006, 53 DCR 8845).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 1012(a) of Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-1, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1165).

For temporary addition of (a-1), see § 2(i) of the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-597, January 14, 2013, 60 DCR 1001).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(i) of the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-52, April 22, 2013, 60 DCR 6372, 20 DCSTAT 1388).


§ 25–302. Special qualifications for wholesaler’s or retailer’s licenses.

In the case of an application for a wholesaler’s license or for a retailer’s license of any class, except a temporary license, before issuing, transferring to a new owner, or renewing a license, the Board shall further determine that:

(1) No manufacturer, wholesaler, or shareholder holding 25% or more of the common stock of, or equity interest in, a manufacturer or wholesaler, or officer of a manufacturer or wholesaler corporation, or partner or member of a partnership or limited liability company owning 25% or more of its equity interest, has such a substantial interest, direct or indirect, in the applicant’s business or establishment that the applicant would be influenced to purchase alcoholic beverages from the manufacturer or wholesaler; and

(2) The business for which the license is sought has not been, and will not be, conducted with money, equipment, furniture, fixtures, or property (A) rented from, (B) loaned from, (C) given by, or (D) sold for less than fair market value, upon a conditional sale agreement, or a chattel trust from, a manufacturer, wholesaler, shareholder holding 25% or more of the common stock of, or equity interest in, a manufacturer or wholesaler, or officer of a manufacturer or wholesaler corporation, or partner or member of a partnership or limited liability company owning 25% or more of its equity interest.


(Jan. 24, 1934, 48 Stat. 327, ch. 4, § 14; Aug. 25, 1937, 50 Stat. 802, 803, ch. 766, §§ 1, 2; June 15, 1938, 52 Stat. 691, ch. 396, § 3; June 29, 1953, 67 Stat. 103, ch. 159, § 404(e), (f); Aug. 2, 1968, 82 Stat. 616, Pub. L. 90-450, title IV, § 404; Mar. 5, 1981, D.C. Law 3-146, § 4, 27 DCR 4753; Sept. 29, 1982, D.C. Law 4-157, §§ 8, 15, 29 DCR 3617; Mar. 8, 1984, D.C. Law 5-51, § 2(b)(4), (c), 30 DCR 5927; June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-97, § 2, 31 DCR 2556; Mar. 7, 1987, D.C. Law 6-217, § 9, 34 DCR 907; June 5, 1987, D.C. Law 7-7, § 2, 34 DCR 2640; Oct. 3, 1992, D.C. Law 9-174, § 2(b), (c), 39 DCR 5859; May 24, 1994, D.C. Law 10-122, § 2(f), 41 DCR 1658; Apr. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 12-261, § 2003(q)(2), 46 DCR 3142; Oct. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 13-39, § 2, 46 DCR 6548; May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-302.

1973 Ed., § 25-115.


§ 25–303. Restrictions on holding a conflicting interest.

(a) Before issuing, transferring to a new owner, or renewing a license, the Board shall determine that the applicant is not disqualified because of a conflicting interest in another license, as follows:

(1) No licensee under a wholesaler’s license shall hold a license of any other class or kind.

(1A) No holder of a manufacturer's license shall hold a license of any other kind; provided, that a licensee under a manufacturer's license shall be permitted to hold another manufacturer's license of the same or a different class.

(2) No licensee under an on-premises retailer’s license, class C or D, shall hold any other license except an on-premises retailer’s license, class C or D, a pub crawl license, as defined by regulation, or a caterer's license.

(3) No licensee under an off-premises retailer’s license, class A or B, shall hold an interest in any other license.

(b) The Board shall not reject, solely on the basis of this section, the application of a franchisee who controls, or will control, the entire interest in the receipts, profits, inventory, purchases, pricing, and sales of beverages under the license, if the franchisee held a license, or had an application for a license pending, on June 22, 1982.

(c) The requirements of this section shall not apply to an applicant for an off-premises retailer’s license, class B, for the sale of alcoholic beverages in an establishment if:

(1) The primary business and purpose is the sale of a full range of fresh, canned, and frozen food items, and the sale of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the primary purpose;

(2) The sale of alcoholic beverages constitutes no more than 15% of the total volume of gross receipts on an annual basis;

(3) The establishment is located in a C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, or C-5 zone or, if located within the Southeast Federal Center, in the SEFC/C-R zone;

(4) The establishment is a full service grocery store which is newly constructed with a certificate of occupancy issued after January 1, 2000, or is an existing store which has undergone renovations in excess of $500,000 after January 1, 2000;

(5) The opinion of the ANC, if any, has been given great weight; and

(6) The applicant does not hold a manufacturer’s or wholesaler’s license.

(d)(1) A manufacturer, or its affiliate, licensed under this title, may hold an interest in a limited partnership providing financial assistance to a general partner wholesaler as described in paragraph (2) of this subsection, but shall only exercise such control of the limited partnership business as is permitted by this chapter. The limited partner shall not have or exercise managerial control or decision-making authority with respect to daily operations of the limited partnership. Upon a default by the general partner wholesaler, the limited partner shall not acquire or assume additional control, ownership, or financial interest in the limited partnership. The manufacturer, or its affiliate licensed in the District shall not have a financial or ownership interest in the general partner wholesaler.

(2) The only financial assistance allowed pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be the initial financial assistance to the limited partnership to acquire a licensed beer wholesaler. In that arrangement for financial assistance, the wholesaler license issued under this title shall be issued in the name of the general partner wholesaler on behalf of the limited partnership, and shall not be issued in the name of the limited partnership nor in the name of the manufacturer, or its affiliate.

(3) The limited partnership providing the financial assistance described in this section shall not exist for more than 10 years from the date of its creation, and shall not be recreated, renewed, or extended beyond that date.

(4) This section shall not amend or otherwise alter this title, except for the limited purpose of allowing a manufacturer, or its affiliate, which is licensed in the District, to provide financial assistance to a limited partnership for the exclusive purpose of acquiring a licensed beer wholesaler. A manufacturer or its affiliate shall not require the wholesaler to use the financial assistance as described above.

(e) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a wholesaler or other licensee under this title from obtaining, perfecting, or enforcing a security interest under Article 9 of Subtitle I of Title 28 in any personal property or fixtures of a retailer or other licensee, including inventory and accounts and other rights to payment.

(f) The requirements of this section shall not apply to an applicant for an off-premises retailer's license, class B, for the sale of alcoholic beverages in an establishment if the:

(1) Establishment will be located inside of a hotel and will have no direct public access to the street or the outside of the hotel's building;

(2) Other license held by the applicant is a hotel, restaurant, or tavern retailer's license that is also located within the same hotel as the establishment's proposed location;

(3) Establishment's sale of alcoholic beverages constitutes no more than 25% of the total volume of gross receipts on an annual basis; and

(4) Opinion of the ANC, if any, has been given great weight.


(Jan. 24, 1934, 48 Stat. 327, ch. 4, § 12; Sept. 29, 1982, D.C. Law 4-157,§ 7, 29 DCR 3617; Mar. 7, 1987, D.C. Law 6-217, § 7, 34 DCR 907; Aug. 17, 1991, D.C. Law 9-40, § 2(c), 38 DCR 4974; May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298,§ 101, 48 DCR 2959; Oct. 1, 2002, D.C. Law 14-190, § 1702(e), 49 DCR 6968; Sept. 30, 2004, D.C. Law 15-187, § 101(i), 51 DCR 6525; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-361, § 2(b), 56 DCR 1204; Oct. 20, 2011, D.C. Law 19-23, § 2(b), 58 DCR 6509; Oct. 22, 2015, D.C. Law 21-36, § 2162, 62 DCR 10905; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-260, § 2(c)(1), 64 DCR 2079; Oct. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-165, § 2(c)(2), 65 DCR 9366.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-303.

1973 Ed., § 25-113.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 25-112, § 25-118, and § 25-722.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-190, in subsec. (c), substituted “during the preceding 12 months” for “in the calendar year” and made a nonsubstantive change in par. (4), made a nonsubstantive change in par. (5), and added par. (6).

D.C. Law 15-187 rewrote par. (5) of subsec. (c); and added subsec. (d). Prior to amendment, par. (5) of subsec. (c) had read as follows: “(5) The opinion of the ANC in which the establishment is located has been given great weight as specified in Chapter 4; and”.

D.C. Law 17-361, in subsec. (c)(4), substituted “after January 1, 2000” for “during the preceding 12 months in which an application is made”.

D.C. Law 19-23, in subsec. (c)(3), substituted “or, if located within the Southeast Federal Center, in the SEFC/C-R zone;” for a semicolon; and, in subsec. (c)(5), substituted “weight; and” for “weight.”

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 21-36 added (e).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 2 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control New Grocery Store Development Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-306, April 7, 2000, 47 DCR 2706).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 2 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control New Grocery Store Development Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-369, July 10, 2000, 47 DCR 5834).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 1702(e) of Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-453, July 23, 2002, 49 DCR 8026).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Southeast Federal Center/Yards Non-Discriminatory Grocery Store Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-674, December 28, 2010, 58 DCR 130).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2162 of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-127, July 27, 2015, 62 DCR 10201).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2 of D.C. Law 13-145 added subsec. (d) to read as follows:

“(d)(1) The requirements of this section shall not apply to an applicant for an off-premises retailer’s license, Class B for the sale of alcoholic beverages in an establishment:

“(A) Where the primary business and purpose is the sale of a full range of fresh, canned, and frozen food items, and where the sale of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the primary purpose;

“(B) Where the sale of alcoholic beverages constitutes no more than 15% of the total volume of gross receipts on an annual basis;

“(C) Where the establishment is located in a C-1, C-2, C-3,C-4, or C-5 zone;

“(D) Where the establishment is a newly constructed, full-service grocery store with a Certificate of Occupancy issued after January 1, 2000; and

“(E) When the decision of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in which the establishment is located has been given great weight.

“(2) The exemption in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply to a grocery store which has its structure replaced or has substantially altered its structure as the result of a renovation.”

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 13-145 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(b) of D.C. Law 18-346, in subsec. (c)(3), substituted “or, if located within the Southeast Federal Center, in the SEFC/C-R zone;” for a semicolon; and, in subsec. (c)(5), substituted “; and” for a period at the end.

Section 4(b) of D.C. Law 18-346 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.