Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

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File a Protest

What can be protested?

Certain applications for alcoholic beverage licenses can be protested, including applications for a: 

  • New license
  • License renewal
  • Substantial change to an establishment's operations
  • Transfer of a license to a new location

Who can file a protest?

The following can file a protest:

  • An abutting property owner
  • A group of five or more District residents (or three or more if the establishment is located in a moratorium zone)
  • An incorporated community association that has open membership to all residents in the area represented by the association and meets all of the following requirements:
    • The association provides notice of the meeting where the protest will be discussed to the applicant at least seven days prior to the meeting
    • The association's decision regarding the applicant’s license must be approved in accordance with the association’s rules
  • Any ANC located within 600 feet of the establishment
  • The Mayor, if property owned by the District is located within 600 feet of the establishment
  • A designated custodian, if a property owned by the United States is located within 600 feet of the establishment
  • The Metropolitan Police Department

How do I file a protest?

Follow these steps to file a protest petition:

  • File a protest letter prior to the petition deadline stated on the Notice of Public Hearing (placard notice).
  • Provide information in the letter about the establishment you are protesting, including the trade name and address.
  • Include at least one appropriateness standard (outlined in § 25-313):
    • The effect of the establishment on real property values;
    • The effect of the establishment on peace, order, and quiet, including the noise and litter provisions set forth in §§ 25-725 and 25-726;
    • The effect of the establishment upon residential parking needs and vehicular and pedestrian safety; and
    • In the case of a license renewal, the provisions of this subsection and § 25-315 (page 46).
  • Designate a representative in the letter who will represent the group in all hearings once the group is granted standing.
  • Include printed names, addresses and emails (if available) for all signatories.

Protest petitions may be submitted by email, mail or in person to ABRA's office:

  • 2000 14th Street, NW, 4th Floor, Suite 400 South, Washington, DC 20009


ABRA provides mediation services to all parties of a protest.


There may be a variety of hearings associated with the protest process, including:

  • Roll Call Hearings - Proceeding where the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board's (Board) agent introduces the parties (protestant(s) and applicant) and states the grounds for the protest.
  • Status Hearing -  Proceeding held by the Board where the parties inform the Board of their progress in reaching a settlement agreement.
  • Protest Hearing - Adjudicatory proceeding where the Board receives evidence and testimony on the appropriateness of the licensing action.

Hearing Requirements

  • If the protest includes a group of residents, present at least five signatories, or three if the establishment is in a moratorium zone, between the roll call hearing and the status hearing.
    • The Board only requires the initial attendance of five signatories, three in a moratorium zone, regardless of the size of the protest group.
    • If fewer than five signatories attend the roll call hearing, the group will be granted conditional standing, which would require the remaining members appearing at the status hearing.
  • Attend all hearings and mediations on time. If you are unable to attend a scheduled hearing, remember to contact ABRA to cancel.
  • File a Protest Information and Exhibit Form (PIF) at least seven calendar days prior to a protest hearing.
  • Present your case within one and a half hours at the protest hearing.
    • Only discuss the appropriateness standards that remain unresolved after mediation.
    • Minimize repetitive or irrelevant testimony from witnesses.
    • Budget your time. Any cross-examination of an applicant’s witnesses is counted against your allotted hour and a half.


Any paperwork related to the protest, such as a motion, PIF, etc., needs to be filed with ABRA's General Counsel. Filings also need to be provided to all parties of the protest. 

  • Serve filings (motions, PIFs, etc.) to all parties, including ABRA’s General Counsel Division.
  • Ensure all filings are signed and include original signatures.
  • File responses to party motions within seven calendar days.

Filings may be submitted by email, mail or in person to ABRA's office:

  • Email
  • 2000 14th Street, NW, 4th Floor, Suite 400 South, Washington, DC 20009
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