Underage Drinking

District of Columbia

The policy topics, below, address statues and regulations related to underage drinking and access to alcohol.

Internal possession is not explicitly prohibited.

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

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

Provision(s) targeting minors:

  • Use of a false ID to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense
  • No driver's license suspension 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.

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.

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

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.

No State-imposed liability for hosting underage drinking parties.