Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter VII. Physical Space and Advertising.


§ 25–761. Structural requirements.

No license shall be issued for the sale or consumption of beverages in any building, a part of which is used as a dwelling or lodging house, unless the applicant files an affidavit stating to the satisfaction of the Board that access from the portion of the building used as a dwelling or lodging house to the portion where the applicant desires to sell alcoholic beverages is effectively closed; provided, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to a hotel or a club licensed under this title. The Board, by regulation, may provide for waiver of the provisions of this section upon application of a licensee.


(May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959.)


§ 25–762. Substantial changes in operation must be approved.

(a) Before a licensee may make a change in the interior or exterior, or a change in format, of any licensed establishment, which would substantially change the nature of the operation of the licensed establishment as set forth in the initial application for the license, the licensee shall obtain the approval of the Board in accordance with § 25-404.

(b) In determining whether the proposed changes are substantial, the Board shall consider whether they are potentially of concern to the residents of the area surrounding the establishment, including changes which would:

(1) Increase the occupancy of the licensed establishment or the use of interior space not previously used;

(2) Expand the operation of the licensed establishment to allow for permanent use of exterior public or private space or summer gardens;

(3) Expand the operation of the licensed establishment to another floor, roof, or deck;

(4) Provide for, or expand, an area in which live entertainment would be performed by employees of the establishment, patrons, contract employees, or self-employed individuals, such as dancers or disc jockeys;

(5) Diminish, or expand, the space used by the establishment for service of meals, dining areas, or food preparation areas;

(6) Provide permanent space for dancing by patrons if none existed previously;

(7) Change the exterior design, architecture, or construction of the building in such a way as to convey to the public notice of the fact that alcoholic beverages are to be, or are sold, dispensed, stored, or distributed in or from the building;

(8) Provide music or entertainment if none was provided previously;

(9) Change from recorded to live music or entertainment or the kind of music or entertainment provided;

(10) Change the entertainment to include nude performances;

(11) Change from full-menu offerings to offering snack food;

(12) Change from on-premises consumption of food to carry-out sales or offering carry-out sales if none existed previously;

(13) Extend the hours of operation;

(14) Provide mechanical or electronic entertainment devices if these did not exist previously or provide for the installation of additional devices;

(15) Change the trade name or corporate name, coupled with a change in ownership of the establishment;

(16) Change the booth sizes;

(17) Reduce the number of toilet facilities; or

(18) Increase the number of vessels under the on-premises common carrier license class.

(c) A temporary or permanent reduction in the hours of operation of a licensed establishment shall not constitute a substantial change.


(May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 25-351 and § 25-361.


§ 25–763. Restrictions on use of signs.

(a) Exterior signs advertising alcoholic beverages, which signs have a total cumulative area in the aggregate in excess of 10 square feet, shall be prohibited.

(b) No sign advertising alcoholic beverages on the exterior of, or visible from the exterior of, any licensed establishment or elsewhere in the District shall be illuminated at any time when the sale of alcoholic beverages at the licensed premises is prohibited.

(c) A sign advertising alcoholic beverages on the exterior of, or visible from the exterior of, any licensed establishment, which is illuminated with intermittent flashes of light shall be prohibited.

(d) A retail licensee shall not erect or maintain at the licensed establishment, except to the extent required by federal law, a sign or lettering using the words “Wholesale,” “Wholesaler,” “Wholesale department,” or any other word or words designed or intended to mislead or deceive the general public into believing that the licensee is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages as a wholesaler.

(e) A sign which does not conform to this section shall be removed.

(f) In addition to the provisions of this section, signage shall be subject to § 1-303.21 and any rules issued pursuant to that section.


(May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-289, § 6, 60 DCR 2328.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-289 rewrote (f).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 6 of the Sign Regulation Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-387, July 11, 2012, 59 DCR 8491).

For temporary amendment of (f), see § 6 of the Sign Regulation Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-499, October 26, 2012, 59 DCR 12749), applicable after the Mayor’s issuance of a comprehensive final rulemaking governing signs on public space and private property, and with the condition that any order, rule, or regulation in effect under a law replaced by this act shall remain in effect until repealed, amended, or superseded.

Temporary Legislation

Section 6 of D.C. Law 19-181 amended (f) to read as follows:

“(f) In addition to the provisions of this section, signage shall be subject to section 1 of An Act To regulate the erection, hanging, placing, painting, display, and maintenance of outdoor signs and other forms of exterior advertising within the District of Columbia, approved March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1486; D.C. Official Code § 1-303.21), and any rules issued pursuant to that section.”

Section 8 of D.C. Law 19-181 provided that any order, rule, or regulation in effect under a law replaced by this act shall remain in effect until repealed, amended, or superseded.

Section 9 of D.C. Law 19-181 provided that sections 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the act shall apply upon the Mayor’s issuance of a comprehensive final rulemaking governing signs on public space and private property pursuant to section 2 of the act.

Section 11(b) of D.C. Law 19-181 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Editor's Notes

Section 6 of D.C. Law 19-289 would have rewritten (f) to read as follows: "In addition to the provisions of this section, signage shall be subject to § 1-303.21, and any rules issued pursuant to that section.

Section 9 of D.C. Law 19-289 provided that any order, rule, or regulation in effect under a law replaced by this act shall remain in effect until repealed, amended, or superseded.

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-289, § 6: Section 10 of D.C. Law 19-289 provided that sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the act shall not apply until the Mayor’s issuance of a comprehensive final rulemaking governing signs on public space and private property pursuant to section 2 of the act. Section 2 of D.C. Law 19-289 rewrote §§ 1-303.21 and 1-303.23, and repealed § 1-303.22.


§ 25–764. Advertisements related to alcoholic beverages in general.

No person shall publish or disseminate, or cause to be published or disseminated, directly or indirectly, through any radio or television broadcast, in any newspaper, magazine, periodical, or other publication, or by any sign, placard, or any printed matter, an advertisement of alcoholic beverages which is not in conformity with this title.


(May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959.)


§ 25–765. Advertisement on windows and doors of licensed establishment.

(a) Advertisements relating to alcoholic beverages shall only be displayed in the window of a licensed establishment if the total area covered by the advertisements does not exceed 25% of the window space.

(b) Advertisements relating to alcoholic beverages shall not be displayed on the exterior of any window or on the exterior or interior of any door.


(May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959; May 2, 2015, D.C. Law 20-270, § 2(e)(7), 62 DCR 1866.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-270 substituted “to alcoholic beverages” for “to the prices of alcoholic beverages” in (a).


§ 25–766. Prohibited statements.

A statement that is false or misleading with respect to any material fact shall be prohibited.


(May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959.)