underage drinking laws california

Can Minors Drink in California?

underage drinking laws california%

As holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s roll around, there are plenty of parties to attend. Families get together to catch up and reflect on the passing year. These parties are full of fun, and typically, full of drinking. As long as there is no driving after the drinking, this is no problem for adults. After all, they can drink whenever they like.

However, problems can arise when the kids, especially teens, see all of the adults drinking. The fact that teens want to grow up sooner rather than later is no secret. One of their favorite requests is to join their parents and other adult relatives in drinking.

Some parents are fine with this request. They see no problem with it since the teen is in a safe and controlled environment surrounded by trusted adults. However, this is a problem in the State of California. If a parent or guardian is not careful, they could wind up in trouble with the law.

The Law in California

Here in California, and the rest of the United States, the legal age for a person to begin consuming alcohol is 21. Anyone under the age of 21 who consumes alcohol is breaking the law. The state of California makes it a crime to give or sell alcohol to a minor with Business and Professions Code 25658.

Under Business and Professions Code 25658, selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor is a misdemeanor offense. The law can apply to anyone who gives alcohol to a minor, or any minor who gets access to alcohol through the use of a fake ID.

What many people do not realize, is that this law applies to anyone who gives alcohol to a minor. This includes parents or guardians of the minor in question. If a minor is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of (BAC) 0.05% or greater, then the parent could face misdemeanor charges.

The Penalties

In California, parents who are found guilty of providing their child, who is a minor, with alcohol face misdemeanor charges. This means that they can face:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Some combination of fine and jail time.

These penalties are just slightly better than what a random person would face for breaking Business and Professions Code 25658. In addition to the above penalties, a person breaking this law would also be required to complete at least 24 hours of community service. If the person knowingly sold alcohol to a minor they, or the business, can lose their license to sell alcohol.

If someone under the age of 21 purchases or consumes alcohol on their own, they will face:

  • A $250 fine.
  • 24 to 32 hours of community service.
  • A 1 year suspension of their driver’s license, or a 1 year delay on being able to obtain their license.
  • Subsequent offenses lead to increased penalties for the minor in question.

Keep the Holidays Safe

While kids, especially teens, are always excited to grow up in a hurry, there are some things that should wait. Consuming alcohol is definitely one of those things. Not only is it not a great idea to allow a minor to consume alcohol, it can also get an adult into legal trouble. Even if the adult in question is the parent or guardian.

If a person wants to stay out of trouble this holiday season, then they need to drink responsibly. This means knowing their limits, having a designated driver (DD), and not allowing minors to consume alcohol. So long as a person does that, they can close out the year with loved ones and not behind bars.