(Washington, DC) District of Columbia Mayor, Vincent C. Gray, signed yesterday the comprehensive “Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Emergency Amendment Act” (Bill), which is now in effect on an emergency basis. The Bill was authored by Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham based on the recommendations of an ABC Working Group, which was formed in December 2011. The Council adopted the Bill on December 18, 2012.
Of significance, the Bill allows Sunday alcoholic beverage sales by liquor stores. The District of Columbia now joins 37 other states that permit liquor stores to be open on Sundays. Liquor stores are currently permitted to remain open on Sundays in Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. ABRA Director Fred Moosally stated, “ABRA will begin accepting applications from liquor stores to sell and deliver alcoholic beverages on Sundays starting on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.”
Growlers, which are reusable containers holding up to 64 fluid ounces of beer, may now be sold for off-premise consumption at brew pubs, liquor stores, and full service grocery stores. The sale of growlers of beer for off-premise consumption was previously limited to the District’s three licensed breweries.
The Bill also requires that ABRA conduct free orientation classes for new licensees as well as the general public on existing ABC laws and regulations, noise abatement and sound management, and working proactively with Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, neighborhood and business groups, and residents. The first orientation class has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 2 pm.
Additional highlights of the Bill include: allowing licensees to electronically store books and records on-premises; increasing from 14 percent to 15 percent the alcohol content that may be sold by off-premise retailers that sell wine and beer; changing the term Voluntary or Cooperative Agreement to Settlement Agreement; clarifying the provisions that are permitted to be included in a Settlement Agreement; creating a new permit to allow for Wine Pubs; amending the requirements of a Security Plan; and requiring ABRA to implement a complaint program that receives and addresses noise complaints in real-time.