Skip to main content

See also:

ABRA wants tavern customers to have a good time and to keep the noise down

DC has many great places for customers to relax and have a good time
DC has many great places for customers to relax and have a good time
Photo by Professor Metze

Customers go to bars, taverns, and nightclubs to unwind, relax, and have a good time. This is good. However, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) is encouraging ABC licensees of restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, hotels and multipurpose facilities to learn about and comply with D.C. noise laws.

District ABC noise laws (D.C. Official Code 25-725) prohibit on premise establishments from producing any sound, noise, or music of such intensity that it can be heard in any premises other than the licensed establishment with a few exceptions, which includes areas that are in certain commercial zones.

The Noise Control Act prohibits individuals and businesses from generating noise outside their property that exceeds maximum noise levels of 60 decibels in commercial or light-manufacturing zones at nighttime. Other limits include 55-70 decibels depending on the area and time of day.

It should also be noted that ABRA recommends ABC on premise establishments regularly verify whether they are compliant with District noise laws by listening outside their establishment to ensure noise is not emanating from the premises.

As part of the campaign, ABRA has sent letters to on premise establishments and posted information on its website about noise law compliance. In addition, officials from the Noise Task Force—a joint initiative between ABRA, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)—will be increasing unannounced visits to establishments during the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.

ABRA states that during compliance checks, officials from DCRA will stand outside of establishments with a sound meter and take a number of readings to establish the decibel level of the sound emanating from businesses. Businesses will be notified by officials if they are exceeding noise limits. DCRA will issue a warning for a first-time offense of the Noise Control Act. A second offense of the Noise Control Act will result in a citation from DCRA, which is a $1,000 fine.

In addition to DCRA checks, members of the Noise Task Force will continue to respond to noise complaints. Members of the public can file a noise complaint about an ABC licensed establishment online or call (202) 329-6347. ABC licensees and the public can visit ABRA’s website to learn more about District noise laws.

There are many great establishments in the metro area that serve great food and alcoholic beverages in a great customer service environment. The law requires ABRA to make certain that all customers enjoy the same level of entertainment without disturbing people who are not members of the party.

Never drink and drive.