Underage Drinking

Underage Drinking and Minor-in-Possession Laws

In California, there are a variety of underage drinking laws that punish a variety of activities, including possession of alcohol, purchase of alcohol and selling or supplying alcohol to minors. MIP laws and penalties may impose significant consequences. Punishments for minors in possession vary under the circumstances. If a law violation results in incarceration, then a bail bonds company may assist in posting the necessary bail amount to secure a person’s release.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides helpful research and statistics to help inform persons about the effects of alcohol on the body and on persons from various backgrounds. The information from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism can be useful to understand why California has imposed criminal penalties associated with alcohol abuse.

Following is a summary of a few California alcohol laws. Persons charged with a crime should contact an attorney to learn their rights and review what options may be available. 

Business and Professions Code 25662

Business and Professions Code 25662 prohibits the possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. To be convicted under this code section, the person must have possessed the alcohol while at a public place. MIP laws and penalties are intended to punish unlawful alcohol possession and deter continuing abuse.

Punishments for Minors in Possession varies, depending on whether there are any prior offenses. The penalty may be a monetary fine and community service requirements. There may also be a driver’s license suspension. Underage Drinking Laws are frequently enforced in California.

Penal Code 303a

Under California Penal Code 303a, a person may be charged for soliciting the purchase of alcohol. For example, if a person asks another to buy them alcohol, then it could result in charges. This offense is mostly intended to deter selling or supplying alcohol to minors.

If convicted of this offense, there may be a jail sentence of up to 6 months. There is a mandatory minimum of 30 days of incarceration. There may also be fines and probation imposed. Because this offense is a misdemeanor, a person may be placed under arrest if caught.

California’s drunk in public law 

Penal Code 647(f) is California’s drunk in public law. This law prohibits persons from being under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a public place to a degree that either causes a safety issue or interferes with the use of a sidewalk or roadway.

If convicted of this offense, there may be up to six months incarceration and a $1000 fine. If a person has prior convictions for this crime, then there may be mandatory jail time and court-mandated treatment. This offense may only be charged if the person’s intoxication is such that it creates a hazard.


Depending upon the situation, there may be defenses to rebut an alcohol-related charge. For example, many alcohol-related offenses require proof that a person was actually intoxicated. This may require law enforcement to show evidence of intoxication, such as field sobriety tests or a breath test.

If a person’s constitutional rights are violated during an investigation, arrest or during the course of the case, then there may also be defences available. If a constitutional violation is shown, it may result in suppression of evidence, reduction of charges or even complete dismissal of the case.

A person who is charged or arrested for an alcohol offense should contact a criminal defense attorney. Persons who are arrested will likely either be released on their own recognizance or be provided with the opportunity to post a bond and be released. Bond amounts can be secured through a bail bonds company.

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