A Brief Overview of San Diego Alcohol and Drinking Laws

Most states have restrictions on substances that are prohibited to minors, such as smoking and drinking, including a prohibition on the sale to minors. There may also be other restrictions such as no drinking in public; a legal drinking age limit; a prohibition on the presence of minors in bars or pubs; limitation on the hours in which alcohol may be sold or served in bars and restaurants; and a prohibition on drinking in certain public places. Other laws involve a prohibition on drinking while engaged in other activities, such as driving.

It is always a good idea to know what the local laws are regarding drinking and alcohol before you go bottoms up on your drink. You might consider asking around if DUIs are bailable offenses, too, and how much is the typical bail bondsman fee for an alcohol-related charge.

There are some alcohol-related laws in San Diego. Aside from the more obvious ones, such as a prohibition on drinking and driving, there are a few other restrictions on the consumption of alcohol that are useful to know.

The legal drinking age

In San Diego, California, the legal drinking age is 21. That means that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to buy or consume alcohol. And this applies even to the consumption of alcohol at home. Under the San Diego Municipal Code Sec. 56.62, it is unlawful to permit minors to consume alcoholic beverages in your home. This means that minors having a party at your home are not allowed to drink alcohol, and you might want to think twice before allowing them a sip of that wine during family celebrations. In any case, it has to be in moderation and be closely supervised. It is best for parents to have a conversation with their children about alcohol and its effects before any drinking takes place.

No consumption of alcohol in public places

street drinkingUnder the same code, under section 56.54 (b), the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in public places such as streets, sidewalks, parking lots, plazas, and yes, beaches. While there may be some designated areas in San Diego parks and beaches where drinking may be allowed at limited times, or during special events when a special event permit was granted, most of the time, a general prohibition is in effect. Exceptions should very rarely be considered the rule.

The bottom line is if you’re not sure that drinking is allowed in a certain area at a certain time, assume that it is not allowed. A special event permit is necessary for alcohol consumption in a public place to be considered legal, and even then, these permits are only for a limited date and time.

A special host ordinance where adults are prohibited from hosting gatherings where underage guests consume alcohol

This is a word of caution for those who host parties but do not monitor their guests. It is often easy for minors to sneak into an open house party and pretend to be older than they are so that they could consume drinks. But one needs to be careful because as a host, you are responsible if alcoholic beverages are consumed by minors at a gathering you are hosting.