Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control

Alcohol Beverage Services, previously known as the Department of Liquor Control is a government agency within the County of Montgomery, Maryland and is the wholesaler or beer, wine and sprits alcoholic beverage throughout the county's 507-square-mile (1,310 km2) area. Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control also exercises control over retail sales for off-premises consumption, either through government-operated package stores or designated agents.

Between 1880 and 1933, sale of alcohol was prohibited within Montgomery County.[1]

Alcohol Beverage Services was established on July 1, 1951. Montgomery County's Liquor Control Board was created under the terms of Section 159 of Article 2B of the Annotated Code of Maryland. The Board of License Commissioners, which had been created on December 5, 1933, became a completely separate entity. The Board is responsible for licensing and regulation of liquor, a responsibility which they share with the county police department.

Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) distributes beer, wine and spirits to approximately 1,100 licensed businesses and sells alcohol to go through its 25 owned and operated retail stores[2] throughout the county. The DLC is the only authorized seller of spirits for off-premises consumption in the county. Revenue generated from the sale of alcohol, about 30-35 million dollars annually, is deposited in the Montgomery County General Fund for the county to use on projects and services. The Public Health community, including the CDC, has identified the control model as a public safety initiative because it limits alcohol outlet density and associated issues.

Independent from Montgomery County ABS, Maryland state law bans grocery stores from selling beer and wine.[3] Four grocery chains — Giant Food, Safeway, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, and Magruder's — received an exception under a grandfather clause and these four are allowed to have one location that sells beer and wine in Montgomery County. In addition to the aforementioned grocery chains, one Montgomery County location of 7-Eleven convenience store — in Aspen Hill — was granted an exception to sell beer and wine.[3] These licenses can be transferred to any of the chain’s other locations in Montgomery County subject to approval by the county Board of License Commissioners.[3] The 7-Eleven license was challenged in 2017 by small business retailers and eventually revoked in 2018 for violating the chain store restriction. The chain store law was enacted in the early 1980s after a push from small, local retail businesses. The chain store law is independent of the DLC. In fact, the majority of control jurisdictions have alcohol sales in chain stores.


  1. McMaster, Richard K.; Hiebert, Ray Eldon. A Grateful Remembrance: The Story of Montgomery County, Maryland. Montgomery County Government and the Montgomery County Historical Society. 1976. p. 197.
  2. County of Montgomery Department of Liquor Control Retail Store Directory. Archived 2010-12-16 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Kristi Tousignant. "Briggs Chaney Will Lose Beer and Wine Sales at Grocery". Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine The Gazette. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.

See also

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