ABRA Sets Guidelines for Alcohol Delivery Apps

By Julia Cole, Junior Editor with Jason Kalafat Defense Attorney

It is becoming increasingly easy for Washingtonians to avoid last-minute beer runs by requesting that alcohol be delivered to their home with just a swipe of a finger. Two smartphone app-based services that deliver beer, wine, and liquor to one’s doorstep have been approved to begin operations in DC by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), according to Washingtonian Magazine.

Drizly, which advertises a delivery window of 20-40 minutes, already operates in Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. It is one of two at-home alcohol delivery services that were found to be compliant with regulations set forth by ABRA. Klink, a similar delivery service, also offers daily deals and a “party summons” option for users in search of drinking partners. Both apps use a scanning function to verify a user’s identification.

ABRA’s new guidelines regulating unlicensed online and app-based alcohol services were released Thursday. The full regulations can be found in this pdf. The ruling allows the services to facilitate the sale of alcohol by “connecting consumers over the Internet to District retailers such as liquor and grocery stores and/or promoting a retailer’s alcoholic products.”

The delivery services are also subject to strict limitations according to the guidelines. They are prohibited from “soliciting, selling, and shipping orders for alcoholic beverages; storing alcoholic beverages for sale to consumers; and collecting any money, fees, or transacting any credit or debit cards for the sale of alcoholic beverages.”

The services are required to transfer any credit or debit card information to a liquor-licensed retailer in order to complete a transaction. The retailers may approve or deny any order at their discretion.

Ultra, a similar delivery service that was operating in the District, was shut down by ABRA in June because it was processing payments itself instead of passing the orders to its partner stores. According to the Washington Post, the service’s new operations process falls in line with ABRA’s ruling and the app plans to re-launch in the District soon.

The growing number of alcohol delivery services in the area means that DC residents will no longer have to send friends or family members out on beer runs after they have potentially already consumed alcohol. Should one run out of adult beverages while entertaining guests in their home, they may now just pull up an app on their smartphone and with a couple taps of their fingertips, request a fresh batch of booze. The growing number of such services could have the added benefit of lowering the amount of DUI offenses in the District since people will no longer have to venture out themselves in search of more drinks. Now that safety and convenience are taken care of, it looks like DC residents may party on responsibly.