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California Alcohol Laws

Alcohol Laws Disclaimer Free Online DUI Case EvaluationWhere to Buy Alcohol

Private retail stores, groceries, and convenience stores sell beer, wine, and spirits. Alcohol is not sold between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol You must be 21 to drink or work at a bar in California, but there is no age limit for handling alcohol in retail stores as long as a manager who is 21 or older is supervising. You can work in a restaurant that sells alcohol at age 18.

Open Container Laws

Previously opened bottles of alcohol must be carried in the vehicle’s trunk.

BAC Limits

Like most states, California’s maximum legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent. A driver proven under chemical testing to have .08 percent BAC is considered ‘per se intoxicated,’ and no other evidence is needed to convict the driver of driving under the influence (DUI).

‘Zero tolerance laws’ prevent those under the age of 21 from driving while intoxicated by setting DUI penalties for those convicted of .01 percent BAC or higher.

At .16 percent above the legal limit of .08 percent, a driver is liable for more severe punishment.


A driver may lose his or her license for up to a year for refusing to submit to chemical testing for intoxication by breath, blood, or urine under implied consent laws or for being above the .08 percent maximum BAC. Suspension of the driver’s license by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for the first DUI offense is four months; for the second offense, two years; for the third offense, three years.

Free Online DUI Case EvaluationWith a third DUI conviction, a driver’s vehicle may be confiscated, an ignition interlock device may be attached to the driver’s car at his or her expense. Alcohol education may be mandated for those convicted under 21 yeas of age, and in addition, adult drivers may be required to undergo prevention program, treatment for alcohol abuse, and/or assessment for possible dependency upon alcohol or drugs. DUI is considered a felony after the fourth conviction.