Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter IX. Minors and Intoxicated Persons.


§ 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 , 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 in 2 years, 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 in 3 years, 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;

(4) Upon the 4th violation in 4 years, the Board may revoke the license or impose a fine of no less than $30,000; and

(5) Upon the 5th or subsequent violation in 4 years, the Board shall 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; Oct. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-165, § 2(f)(7), 65 DCR 9366.)

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 (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of Sale to Minors Penalty Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-472, July 21, 2016, 63 DCR 10170).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of Sale to Minors Penalty Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-398, May 19, 2016, 63 DCR 7912).

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).


§ 25–782. Restrictions on minor’s entrance into licensed premises.

(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, the licensee under an off-premises retailer’s license, class A, shall not permit a person under 18 years of age to enter the licensed establishment between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on any day in which the public schools of the District are in session during the regular school year.

(2) A licensee under an off-premises retailer's license, class A, may allow a person under 18 years of age who is accompanied by a parent or guardian to enter the licensed establishment between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on any day in which the public schools of the District are in session during the regular school year.

(b) It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge of violating subsection (a) of this section that the licensee or a licensee’s employee was shown a valid identification document indicating that the minor was 18 years of age or older, which document the licensee or the licensee’s employee reasonably believed to be valid, and that the licensee or the licensee’s employee reasonably believed that the person was 18 years of age or older or was not truant or unlawfully absent from school.

(c) Subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to a licensee under a retailer’s license, class A, for a supermarket if its primary business and purpose is the sale of a full range of fresh, canned, and frozen food items, and if the sale of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the primary purpose and constitutes no more than 25% of total volume of gross receipts on an annual basis.

(d) Except as otherwise permitted, a licensee shall not deny admittance to a person displaying a valid identification document displaying proof of legal drinking age.

(e) The provisions of this section notwithstanding, a licensee not shall discriminate on any basis prohibited by Unit A of Chapter 14 of Title 2.


(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. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-165, § 2(f)(8), 65 DCR 9366.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-782.

1973 Ed., § 25-121.


§ 25–783. Production of valid identification document required; penalty.

(a) A licensee shall refuse to sell, serve, or deliver an alcoholic beverage to any person who, upon request of the licensee, fails to produce a valid identification document.

(b) A licensee or his agent or employee shall take steps reasonably necessary to ascertain whether any person to whom the licensee sells, delivers, or serves an alcoholic beverage is of legal drinking age. Any person who supplies a valid identification document showing his or her age to be the legal drinking age shall be deemed to be of legal drinking age.

(c) A violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section shall be punishable as a primary tier violation.

(c-1)(1) In determining whether a licensee has prior violations for the purposes of subsection (c) 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) or (b) of this section, either by an order of the Board, the Board's acceptance of an offer-in-compromise, of 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) or (b) 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.

(d) The provisions of this section notwithstanding, no licensee shall discriminate on any basis prohibited by Unit A of Chapter 14 of Title 2.

(e) An affirmative defense to a violation of subsection (a) of this section shall be that the person was at the time of the violation 21 years of age or older.


(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; May 1, 2013, D.C. Law 19-310, § 2(cc), 60 DCR 3410; May 2, 2015, D.C. Law 20-270, § 2(e)(9), 62 DCR 1866; Mar. 9, 2016, D.C. Law 21-84, § 2(e)(6), 63 DCR 781; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-260, § 2(f)(7), 64 DCR 2079; Oct. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-165, § 2(f)(9), 65 DCR 9366.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-783.

1973 Ed., § 25-121.

Effect of Amendments

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

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-270 substituted “preceding 4 years” for “preceding 2 years” in the introductory language of (c).

The 2016 amendment by D.C. Law 21-84 added “the penalties shall be the following” in the introductory language of (c); substituted “fourth or subsequent violation” for “fourth violation” in (c)(4); and repealed (c)(5).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Sale to Minors Penalty Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-472, July 21, 2016, 63 DCR 10170).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(b) of Sale to Minors Penalty Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 (D.C. Act 21-398, May 19, 2016, 63 DCR 7912).

For temporary addition of (e), see § 2(cc) 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(cc) 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).

Temporary Legislation

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


§ 25–784. Sale or distribution of beverages by minor prohibited.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a licensee shall not allow any person under 21 years of age to sell, give, furnish, or distribute an alcoholic beverage.

(b) A licensee may allow an employee who is 18 years of age or older to sell, serve, deliver, or pour an alcoholic beverage on the licensed premises; provided, that no employee under 21 years of age shall serve as a bartender.


(Jan. 24, 1934, 48 Stat. 331, ch. 4, §§ 20, 25; Aug. 27, 1935, 49 Stat. 901, ch. 756, §§ 10, 12; June 29, 1953, 67 Stat. 104, ch. 159, § 404(g); Dec. 8, 1970, 84 Stat. 1393, Pub. L. 91-535, § 3(b); 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), (b), 33 DCR 7654; Mar. 7, 1987, D.C. Law 6-217, §§ 12, 13, 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. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-165, § 2(f)(10), 65 DCR 9366.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-784.

1973 Ed., § 25-121.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 25-781.


§ 25–785. Delivery, offer, or otherwise making available to persons under 21; penalties.

(a) A person who is not a licensee shall not, within the District, purchase an alcoholic beverage for the purpose of delivering the alcoholic beverage to a person who is under 21 years of age.

(b) A person who is a licensee shall not, within the District, offer, give, provide, or otherwise make available an alcoholic beverage to a person who is under 21 years of age, except if necessary to allow the person to perform lawful employment responsibilities that require the person to have temporary possession of alcoholic beverages.

(c) A person who violates any provision of this section shall:

(1) Upon conviction for the first offense, be fined not more then [than] $1,000, or imprisoned up to 180 days, or both;

(2) Upon conviction for the second offense committed within 2 years from the date of any such previous offense, be fined not more than $2,500, or imprisoned up to 180 days, or both;

(3) Upon conviction for the third or any subsequent offense committed within 2 years from the date of any such previous offense, be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned up to one year, or both.

(d) 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.

(e) The fines set forth in this section shall not be limited by [§ 22-3571.01].


(Jan. 24, 1934, ch. 4, § 30a; as added May 24, 1994, D.C. Law 10-122, § 2(k), 41 DCR 1658; May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 113(c), 60 DCR 2064.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 25-785.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-403.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 added (e).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 113(c) of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.