Virginia ABC > About > Agency Overview

Agency Overview

Virginia ABC Hanover Headquarters

Virginia ABC and its more than 4,700 employees are proud to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia. As an authority working with the Secretariat of Public Safety and Homeland Security, ABC administers alcohol-related laws with an emphasis on public safety by ensuring an orderly and regulated system for convenient sales and responsible consumption of alcohol. In 2018, Virginia ABC transitioned from a traditional state government agency to an authority, an independent political subdivision, which provides more flexibility and efficiency as a retailer, wholesaler and regulator of distilled spirits.

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 distilled spirits sales 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, which benefit all Virginians. Since its establishment in 1934, Virginia ABC has contributed $11.4 billion to the commonwealth’s general fund supporting major education, health and transportation initiatives.

As one of our nation’s 17 control states—where the state government manages the sale and distribution of distilled spirits at the wholesale level, Virginia sells distilled spirits exclusively in ABC stores operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. These are the only retail outlets in Virginia where customers may purchase liquor.

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

Virginia ABC store 402

Stores and Products

With more than 390 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 ensure customer satisfaction 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 3,100 items in its online 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 receives and ships about 22,600 cases of distilled spirits daily, for a total of nearly 5.9 million last year. Virginia ABC stores receive weekly and bi-weekly deliveries to restock items available for sale to customers of legal drinking age.

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Education and Prevention Initiatives

Virginia ABC believes in a multi-faceted approach to alcohol education and prevention and includes individuals, families, licensees and communities in its programming curriculum. The authority offers a robust assortment of alcohol prevention and public education initiatives for Virginians of all ages. These include training and resources for 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 choose to consume. In addition, ABC provides grant funding to enhance local alcohol education and prevention programming.

Bureau of Law Enforcement

Virginia ABC’s expertise in alcohol laws and regulations make its 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 other law enforcement agencies, civic leagues, residents, businesses and 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 provide a number of services including:

  • serve as liaisons to breweries, distilleries and wineries;
  • inform and interact with alcohol manufacturers, importers and distributors;
  • collect Virginia taxes;
  • process invoices and renewals;
  • conduct alcohol-related training about the commonwealth’s ABC laws; and
  • maintain records for businesses with ABC licenses and individuals seeking licenses related to alcohol sale and consumption at private special events.

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, ABC 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 conduct hearings virtually and in-person on issues brought to the authority 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 of Directors.

Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority logo

Authority 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.