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State Profiles of Underage Drinking Laws

- District of Columbia -

Underage Drinking: Underage Purchase of Alcohol

Purchase is prohibited and there is NO ALLOWANCE for youth purchase for law enforcement purposes.

Underage Drinking: Minimum Ages for On-Premises Servers and Bartenders

Beer: 18 for servers and 21 for bartenders
Wine: 18 for servers and 21 for bartenders
Spirits: 18 for servers and 21 for bartenders

Underage Drinking: False Identification for Obtaining Alcohol

Provision(s) targeting minors:

  • Use of a false ID to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense
  • Penalty may include driver's license suspension through a judicial procedure

Provision(s) targeting retailers:

  • Specific affirmative defense - the retailer inspected the false ID and came to a reasonable conclusion based on its appearance that it was valid

Notes:
Section designations in the District of Columbia Code were renumbered in connection with the publication of the D.C. Official Code, 2001 Edition.

The District of Columbia defines a "valid identification document" as “an official identification issued by an agency of government (local, state, federal, or foreign) containing, at a minimum, the name, date of birth, signature, and photograph of the bearer." See D.C. Code Ann. § 25-101(53). D.C. Code Ann. § 25-783(b) requires licensed establishments to “take steps reasonably necessary to ascertain” whether any person to whom an alcoholic beverages is served is of legal drinking age, and further provides that “[a]ny 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.” APIS has interpreted the “reasonable steps” requirement as providing the retailer a defense for reasonable reliance on an apparently valid ID.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits: Youth (Underage Operators of Noncommercial Motor Vehicles)
BAC limit: 0.00 - any detectable alcohol in the blood is per se (conclusive) evidence of a violation.

Applies to drivers under age 21.

Notes:
Section designations in the District of Columbia Code were renumbered in connection with the publication of the D.C. Official Code, 2001 Edition.

Retail Sales: Keg Registration

Keg definition: 4 or more gallons

Purchaser information collected:

  • purchaser's name and address
  • verified by a government-issued ID
  • address where keg will be consumed
  • Warning information to purchaser: active – purchaser action required (e.g., signature)

    Deposit: not required

    Provisions specifically address disposable kegs

    Underage Drinking: Use/Lose: Driving Privileges

    Type(s) of violation leading to driver's license suspension, revocation, or denial:

    • Underage purchase
    • Underage possession
    • Underage consumption

    Use/lose penalties apply to minors under age 21

    Authority to impose driver's license sanction

    • mandatory

    Length of suspension/revocation: 90 days

    Notes:
    Section designations in the District of Columbia Code were renumbered in connection with the publication of the D.C. Official Code, 2001 Edition.

    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services USA.gov - Government Made Easy