All state liquor laws vary, so it’s important to know what’s legal and what’s not regarding alcohol sale, purchase and consumption in the great state of California.
Sale of Alcohol in California
As is the case in most states, alcoholic beverages cannot be sold between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. This law pertains to bars, restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores.
Drinking Age for Consumption and Sale in California
The legal drinking age to consume alcoholic beverages in a bar or restaurant is 21. There is no age requirement to handle alcohol in retail stores as long as a manager 21 or older is present and supervising any minors handling alcohol. In California, you can work in a restaurant that sells alcoholic beverages when you’re 18.
Open Container Law in California
As in most states, it is illegal to have an open container in a vehicle—even the passenger cannot have an open container. If you have an open container, you must keep it in the trunk. An example of when you would need to put a container of alcohol in the trunk is when you leave a party with a previously opened bottle of liquor and want to take it home with you. Even if the bottle’s cap is on it and no one is drinking it, it must be in the trunk or you have violated the open container law in California.
DUI in California
Like most states, California’s maximum legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent. If a blood test reveals a driver’s BAC to be .08 percent or higher, he is considered ‘per se intoxicated,’ and no other evidence is needed to convict him of DUI. And, also, like many other states, California enforces a “zero tolerance law,” which states that any driver under the age of 21 can be convicted of a DUI with a BAC as low as .01 percent. If any driver’s BAC is .16 (double the minimum for a DUI), the driver is likely to face much harsher penalties.
Dram Shop Law in California
California law significantly limits dram shop liability, which means a vendor who provides alcohol to someone of legal drinking age can’t be held liable for damages if the person then injures someone else or himself (even if he was obviously intoxicated in the establishment that served him the alcohol). There is one exception to the dram shop law in California: A civil case may be brought to court if an establishment continues to serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated minor, who then causes injury to someone else. This rule does not apply, however, to hosts of private parties or social events.
If you have been arrested or charged with an alcohol-related offense in California, please contact a California criminal defense attorney to represent you.