If you’ve ever been in a California bar after 1:30 a.m., you’ve probably heard an employee at the bar say something to the effect of, “Last call for alcohol.” You’ll hear the “last call” announcement around the same time in bars across California because the lawful hours to sell alcohol are between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m.
In other words, it’s only legal to sell alcoholic beverages, whether in a package, bottle, or by the individual drink between during those hours. It’s against the law to sell alcohol between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. It is also illegal for anyone to knowingly purchase any alcohol, whether from a bar, restaurant, grocery store, or liquor store between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. in California. So, patrons and bars can get in trouble if they break this law and buy or sell alcohol during the “prohibited hours.”
Didn’t the Law Change in 2017?
In 2017, there was a proposal, Senate Bill 384 proposed by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), to allow California bars to extend their hours from 2 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., but lawmakers rejected the bill. However, it’s not over yet.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “the bill was revised to create a task force for studying the issue of keeping bars open beyond 2 a.m., with a report due back to the Legislature by the end of 2019.” Weiner told the Timesthat after bars close, young people tend to unsafe and illicit parties, arguing that SB 384 dealt with “the reality of life.”
“There’s nothing radical about letting local communities decide for themselves whether to let their bars and nightclubs go later,” said Weiner. “It’s embarrassing that California shuts down its nightlife so early. We’re not going to give up,” he said in a written statement.
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As for Orange County residents, we’ll have to wait and see what happens in 2019. Until there are any legislative changes, it’s still illegal to sell or purchase alcohol between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. throughout the state.