Regulation

D.C. Gov Goes After a Piece of Pub-Crawl Profits

You have a permit for that pub crawl, drunk Santa?

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PubCrawls.com/Facebook

Under a new city regulation, promoters of organized bar-hopping in the District of Columbia must register with the city, pay a $500 licensing fee, submit detailed litter-management and security plans, and promote public transportation to revelers.

Pub crawling—the practice of going between myriad bars in a small geographic area over the course of one day or evening—has long been a popular recreational pursuit for friend groups, but in recent years more organized, themed crawls have become popular in cities like D.C., giving rise to roving bands of drunk Santas, Shamrock-adorned ex-frat boys, the tastefully undead, white girls wearing sombreros, Miller Lite-wielding superheroes, etc. Sometimes these are organized by bars and restaurants themselves, sometimes by third-party promoters. But "although opposition to bar crawls because of noise, litter, crowd control, and public intoxication are nothing new…efforts to rein them have ramped up in the past year," according to the blog Barred in D.C., which covers "DC bar news and happenings."

Until this year, the promoters of pub crawls merely had to register (for free) with the city's Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) if 200 or more people were expected and bars would be offering drink specials. But in January, the ABRA approved "emergency regulations" for D.C. pub crawls, which the City Council subsequently approved for good.

Under the new regulations, which took effect August 3, people are banned from hosting pub crawls on popular drinking holidays such as July 4th, Halloween, and New Year's Eve. Any bars or businesses that wish to host a pub crawl must pay $500 annually for a "pub crawl license," as well as receive approval from the ABRA Board for each individual event if 200 or more participants are expected. In order to get approval, the pub-crawl organizer must submit an application at least 45 days in advance, submit a "litter management plan" for approval by the D.C. Department of Public Works, show ABRA proof of a signed contract with and payment to a litter removal company, provide ABRA with a "security plan" that details how organizers plan to curb underage drinking; and receive the blessing of area police.

During the crawl itself, an organizer must be present at all times and must not consume alcohol. Organizers must also post operational and security plans for the event where they are visible to participants and provide participants with literature on responsible drinking. Participating bars, meanwhile, cannot play host to pub crawlers from more than one group in one night.

And that's still not all: The city has also decided to regulate how pub crawls can be advertised. From now on, all D.C. pub-crawl marketing materials must come with the warning "you must be 21 or older to participate" and contain statements encouraging the use of public transportation.

In one new regulation, the D.C. government has managed to compel speech, discourage economic activity, thwart the independent organizing of pub crawls, and extort money from private businesses. Oh, and (of course) provide a bigger roles for regulators and law enforcers.

Businesses found to be serving rogue pub-crawlers or participating in an unlicensed pub crawl could be fined, permanently barred from participating in pub crawls, or even have their liquor licenses revoked.

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  1. Hey, you can’t be expected to make money without letting the Don wet his beak.

    1. dammit, I logged in to say exactly that. The distinction between the government and the Don boils down to honesty. The Don made no pretense that his share was anything but protection money.

      1. Capice, paisano?

        CAPICE, PAISANO?

  2. Why do people put up with this?? And how do they define promoter? A FB invite to some friends?

    1. Not to mention, this would be entirely unenforceable if people could be trusted not to put things on the Internet.

    2. It looks like they aren’t targeting bunches of friends getting together. It’s the ones that are advertised to people who don’t know each other.

      1. It looks like they aren’t targeting bunches of friends getting together.

        … yet

        In unrelated news, asset forfeiture was totally about the drug cartels and was never going to be used against random motorists with lots of cash on hand.

        1. Look at you and your slippery slope argument

          1. The slippery slope may be a logical fallacy, but that doesn’t the government from riding it like a water slide.

            1. throw a “stop” in there as you see fit

            2. And of course it’s not actually a fallacy, is it.

              1. It’s one of those half fallacies. It’s not a strong argument, and should be looked at very carefully.

      2. like the pokemon go pub crawls that sprung up? heaven forbid a business,or group of businesses take advantage of an unexpected opportunity…. gotta plan it 45 days in advance. would posting on facebook that you will be setting off lures from 6-10 pm count as “organizing?”

        this is just the most recent and obvious example. but there are tons of legit reasons a pub crawl could pop up through social media…. lots of examples where something can happen in short order, with very little, if any “organization.” (but then, that is the basic flaw of this kind of governance… the idea that everything is, can, and should be controlled)

  3. The stupid burns worse than Banker’s Club!

  4. Under a new city regulation, promoters of organized bribery in the District of Columbia must register with the city, pay a $5000 licensing fee, submit detailed money laundering and Internet security plans, and promote public transparency to revelers.

  5. Well, looks like DC is well and truly ready for statehood.

  6. Sounds like a regulation ripe for a court challenge on the basis of constitutionality, in particular the compelled speech.

    1. Commercial speech is the redheaded stepchild.

  7. I think “fight for your right to party” is highly undervalued as a libertarian motivator. But it’s what the average person would find most appealing about the philosophy.

    1. Right on, J!

    2. Unfortunately, many people, and not just in DC, value their “right” to keep others from partying.

    3. The people who believe in fighting for your right to party are more likely to also believe in fighting for your right to free health care and a living wage.

      Everybody wants to be free to do the things they like, but most people also want the things they don’t like banned. A growing number of people want the things they like to be subsidized with tax dollars.

  8. Businesses exist to fund government and provide employment to people to lazy and stupid to do real work. There’s also the rush they get from throwing their weight around.

  9. During the crawl itself, an organizer must be present at all times and must not consume alcohol. Organizers must also post operational and security plans for the event where they are visible to participants and provide participants with literature on responsible drinking. Participating bars, meanwhile, cannot play host to pub crawlers from more than one group in one night.

    And that’s still not all: The city has also decided to regulate how pub crawls can be advertised. From now on, all D.C. pub-crawl marketing materials must come with the warning “you must be 21 or older to participate” and contain statements encouraging the use of public transportation.

    Say it with me now:

    FUCK OFF, SLAVER.

    1. When I was 18-20 we called this Saturday night in Athens Ohio. No organizer,just happened .Amateurs .

  10. Would Would Wouldn’t Would Wouldn’t

    But if you take the mustaches off…

    1. Just take the bag your 40 oz is in and out it over their head.

    2. I see some butt sex and weed in that picture’s future

    3. Hey! Why isn’t *yours* a promoted comment?

    4. How much would, wood a…

    5. I apparently have lower standards than you. Damn you, marriage, for doing this to me!

    6. At my age any girl in her twenties, barring genetic deformity or a complete lack of personal hygiene, is a would.

  11. submit detailed litter-management and security plans

    “This pub crawl will utilize the District’s sanitary engineering and law enforcement facilities as appropriate.”

    1. Really. That one’s an admission that our heroes in blue in the MPD either cannot or will not do their jobs.

  12. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason basic white girls are like catnip to me. Always have been, even during my goth days in the 90s.

    1. basic white girls

      Nice band name.

  13. From now on, all D.C. pub-crawl marketing materials must come with the warning “you must be 21 or older to participate” and contain statements encouraging the use of public transportation.

    Which makes it all the more hilarious that the Metro is going to be reducing their evening hours of operation on the weekends, because unlike every other big city in a developed country, we can’t maintain tracks and prevent trains from catching fire without closing at 10 PM on Sunday.

  14. During the crawl itself, an organizer must be present at all times and must not consume alcohol.

    I assume someone on the city council has a nephew who is about to learn he is running the city’s first “pub crawl” business.

  15. I call these kinds of laws “The Obama Syndrome”.

    1. Every business should be supervised by moms.

      1. Or a president wearing mom jeans

  16. I am highly triggered by the repulsive cultural appropriation in that photograph.

  17. Is there some reason St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo were omitted from the list of drinking holidays? Were they afraid they’d be accused of racism?

  18. If it moves tax it and if it doesn’t…

  19. istrict of Columbia must register with the city, pay a $500 licensing fee, submit detailed litter-management and security plans, and promote public transportation to revelers.

    Constitutional violation of right to assembly.

    Next issue.

  20. Oh, and uh, see how free we are to have fun? Look at all the options our government gives us! My ducts are old fashioned… out of date!

    Libertarian moment.

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