California Alcohol Laws

Alcohol-Related Laws in the State of California

In California, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulates the sale and distribution of alcohol.  The Alcoholic Beverage Control works closely with local police departments to enforce alcohol laws in the State.  In order to legally drink in California, you must be 21 years old.  As the State’s Liquor Authority, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control often uses Minor Decoy programs and the Shoulder-Tap program to deter underage drinking and the sale of liquor to minors.   If a premises sells alcohol to a minor, they may face significant penalties including fines and community service. 

Places that sell alcohol in California are also prohibited from selling alcohol to a habitual drunkard and may face a maximum penalty of $1000 and/or 6 months in county jail.  Because alcohol is a contributing factor in numerous fatal traffic collisions, the State has taken a strict policy against people selling to an obviously intoxicated person.  The California legislature made it a misdemeanor under Business and Professions Code 25602 to give or sell alcohol to someone who is a known (common or habitual) drunkard or is obviously intoxicated.

Finally, under Penal Code 647 (f) a person may be charged with public intoxication if they are found in any public place under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and are “unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others.”

Alcohol can greatly impair a person’s judgment and ability to care for themselves.  California and other states are only getting stricter on the enforcement of laws related to alcohol consumption and impaired driving.  It is imperative that if you believe that you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol you seek treatment immediately.