California Beverage Law

California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control – Most Frequently Asked Questions about Enforcement and Violations

May minors be employed in "on-sale" premises?

In a bona fide public eating place, minors between 18 and 21 years of age may serve alcoholic beverages in an area primarily designed and used for the sale and service of food for consumption on the premises as an incidental part of their overall duties. These minors cannot act as bartenders. (Section 25667)

No minor can be employed during business hours on the portion of any premises which is primarily designed and used for the sale and service of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises. There are exceptions, under limited circumstances, with respect to musicians. (Sections 25663 and 25663.5)

May a minor enter and remain in a licensed premises even though the minor does not purchase or consume any alcoholic beverages?

Not if the premises are licensed as an on-sale general public premises, on-sale beer and wine public premises or on-sale beer public premises. There are no restrictions regarding minors entering or remaining on premises licensed for off-sale of alcoholic beverages or premises licensed and maintained and operated as a bona fide public eating place. (Section 25665)

May an off-sale licensee hire minors or use the services of a person under 18 years of age for the sale of alcoholic beverages?

Yes, if the person under 18 years of age is under the continuous supervision of a person 21 years of age or older. (Section 25663[b])

May a habitual drunkard or an obviously intoxicated person be sold alcoholic beverages?

No. Every person who sells, furnishes, gives or causes to be sold, furnished or given away, any alcoholic beverages to any habitual drunkard, or to any obviously intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Section 25602)

How may a licensee determine whether a customer is obviously intoxicated?

A customer is obviously intoxicated when an average person can plainly observe that the patron is intoxicated. The usual signs are staggering, alcoholic breath, slurred speech, poor muscular coordination, etc. (Section 25602)

What are the lawful hours for retail sale of alcoholic beverages?

From 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. of the following day. In other words, it is unlawful to sell alcoholic beverages either by the drink or by the package, between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. of the same day.

It is also unlawful for any person to knowingly purchase any alcoholic beverages between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. (Section 25631)

ABC may further restrict the operating hours of licensed premises. Such restrictions may be imposed in the following situations:

If grounds exist for the denial of an application for a license or where a protest against the issuance of a license is filed and if ABC finds that those grounds may be removed by imposition of those conditions;

Where findings are made by ABC which would justify a suspension or revocation of a license, and where the imposition of a condition is reasonably related to those findings. In the case of a suspension, the conditions may be in lieu of or in addition to the suspension

Where ABC issues an order suspending or revoking only a portion of the privileges to be exercised under the license;

Where findings are made by ABC that the licensee has failed to correct objectionable conditions within a reasonable time after receipt of notice to make corrections given pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 24200.

May an on-sale licensee stack drinks or sell and serve drinks a few minutes before 2 a.m. and permit patrons to remain on the premises consuming alcoholic beverages after that hour?

No. It is a misdemeanor for any retail licensee or employee of the licensee to permit any person, including himself, to consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. of the same day. (Section 25632)