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Virginia ABC > About > Agency Overview

Agency Overview

Virginia ABC store employees

Our Mission

Virginia ABC generates a reliable stream of revenue for Virginia and promotes public safety through the responsible sale and regulation of alcoholic beverages.

Our Values

Accountability – Service – Integrity – Performance Excellence

Our Structure

Virginia ABC and its nearly 4,000 employees are proud to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia as an independent political subdivision and one of 11 public safety agencies under the Secretariat of Public Safety and Homeland Security. The agency administers ABC laws with an emphasis on public safety by ensuring an orderly and regulated system for convenient sales and responsible consumption of alcohol.

Virginia ABC is a leading revenue producer for the commonwealth and the source of future economic growth and innovation for the state. The profits that Virginia ABC contributes—collected from sales of distilled spirits at ABC stores, taxes collected on beer and wine sales, violation penalties and license fees—provide much-needed funding for use in a multitude of state programs, thus benefiting all Virginians. Since its establishment in 1934, Virginia ABC has contributed $10.3 billion to the commonwealth’s General Fund, which supports major education, health and transportation initiatives.

As one of 17 control states across the United States—where the state government manages the sale and distribution of distilled spirits at the wholesale level, ABC stores are the only retail outlets in Virginia where customers may purchase liquor.

Our Stores and Products

With more than 375 stores in convenient locations throughout the commonwealth, Virginia ABC is dedicated to providing those ages 21 and older with an enjoyable, modern shopping environment. Considerable planning is involved in determining locations for new stores to ensure optimum customer service. Virginia ABC also strives to make sure that customers can easily obtain the spirits they want by being timely and nimble in response to market changes, product availability and consumer desires.

Virginia ABC offers a wide selection of merchandise—including mixers, vermouth and Virginia-made wines in addition to liquor—with more than 2,900 items available in its product catalog. These products are stored in the 292,285-square-foot Virginia ABC warehouse—the size of about five and a half football fields—located in Richmond. The warehouse daily receives and ships about 20,400 cases of distilled spirits for a total of more than 4.8 million last year. Virginia ABC stores receive weekly deliveries to restock items available for sale to customers of legal drinking age.

Our Education and Prevention Initiatives

Virginia ABC believes in a multi-faceted approach to alcohol education and abuse prevention and includes individuals, families, licensees and communities in its programming curriculum. The agency offers alcohol prevention and public education initiatives to include training and resources for Virginians of all ages, schools, coalitions, health care providers and those who sell and serve alcohol. Virginia ABC’s Education and Prevention staff offers programs to prevent underage alcohol use and promote the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages for those of age who chose to consume. In addition, the agency provides grant funding to enhance local alcohol education and prevention programming.

Our Bureau of Law Enforcement

Virginia ABC’s expertise in Virginia alcohol laws and regulations make our Bureau of Law Enforcement a valuable resource for future and existing ABC licensees. Special agents are ABC law educators and regulators, working directly with approximately 19,000 licensed businesses to address non-compliance issues and reduce criminal activities involving alcohol. These agents also initiate public safety investigations following incidents at licensed establishments, which involves assisting and cooperating with local law enforcement agencies, civic leagues, residents, businesses and other community stakeholders. All ABC special agents are sworn Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services certified law enforcement officers within the Bureau, which is accredited through the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.

Our Bureau of Law Enforcement also includes licensing, compliance and records management staff who:

  • Serve as liaisons to breweries, distilleries and wineries;
  • Inform and interact with alcohol manufacturers, importers and distributors;
  • Collect Virginia state taxes;
  • Process invoices and renewals;
  • Conduct alcohol-related training about state ABC laws; and
  • Maintain records for businesses with ABC licenses and individuals seeking licenses related to alcohol sale and consumption at private special events.

Our Hearings Process

When there is a disciplinary matter involving a licensee (i.e., a business is charged with an ABC law violation), a contested ABC license application or an issue involving contract disputes between beer or wine producers and their distributors, the agency will hold an administrative hearing. These hearings offer alternate dispute resolution options such as consent and negotiated settlements, and free mediation services. Virginia ABC administrative law judges travel throughout the state to conduct hearings on issues brought to the agency for resolution. Court reporters transcribe testimony, motions and arguments. Opposing sides introduce evidence in support of their case before a hearings officer who weighs the evidence presented and issues a decision. Once a decision is issued, either party has 30 days to appeal to the Virginia ABC Board.

Resources

View Virginia ABC's agency accomplishments for 2014–2017 (PDF).

Authority Transition FAQs

In 2018 Virginia ABC transitioned from an agency into an authority. Learn more about the authority, its structure, its impact on operations and changes to employee benefits on the Authority FAQs page.