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FAQs About Alcohol in California

Alcohol is a highly-regulated substance in the United States. State laws govern how old you have to be to drink it, where you can drink it, where you can buy it, and how and where alcohol can be sold. Since there are so many laws regarding alcoholic beverages in California, some people unwittingly break the law because they didn’t understand it.

In this post, we are going to answer a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about alcohol. If you are facing alcohol-related charges in Orange County, we encourage you to contact our firm to set up a free case evaluation with a member of our legal team.

1. Can minors work at an establishment that sells alcohol?
In a public restaurant, minors between the ages of 18 and 21 are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages, providing the establishment mainly serves food. However, these minors cannot be employed as bartenders.

2. Can minors enter and remain at bars?
Not if it’s a bar licensed as an “on-sale general public premises,” or as an “on-sale beer premises,” or as an “on-sale beer and wine public premises.” However, if the establishment is a restaurant; for example, a restaurant that also has a bar on the premises, there aren’t any restrictions against minors entering or remaining at the establishment.

3. Can alcohol be sold to someone who is obviously intoxicated?
No. If someone sells, gives, or furnishes alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated, that person commits a misdemeanor offense. The same goes for “habitual drunkards.” If someone knows a patron to be an alcoholic, it’s illegal for him or her to serve or sell alcohol to the “habitual drunkard.”

4. How can I tell if a customer is intoxicated?
A person is obviously intoxicated if a reasonable person can easily observe that the customer has had too much alcohol. What are the usual signs? Staggering, slurred speech, stumbling, a strong odor of alcohol on the breath, and poor muscle coordination.

5. Can I purchase alcohol from a bar anytime?
No. In California, it’s against the laws for alcohol to be sold individually or in a package between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. You also cannot purchase alcohol at a bar between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Recommended reading: “Alcohol and Kids.”

We hope this post answers some of your questions regarding California’s alcohol laws. If you’re facing alcohol-related charges in Orange County, contact us for a free consultation.