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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

To-Go Alcohol Laws in California - Things to Keep in Mind

Buying alcohol to go in the State of California is a relatively new way to enjoy booze for local residents. The law that allows businesses to sell alcoholic beverages to-go took effect at the start of 2022, and will remain in place at least until 2026.

This new law is part of the COVID recovery adjustments that were made to California law back in 2021. The idea behind allowing consumers to buy alcohol from restaurants for off-premise consumption is meant to help local businesses increase their sales. However, there are still certain regulations in place to prevent drinking and driving incidents.

Which Businesses Can Sell Alcohol To-Go in California?

Which Businesses Can Sell Alcohol To-Go in California?

There are different types of licenses that an establishment in California can apply for in order to sell alcohol. Most of these licensees are going to be able to tap into the alcohol to-go business as long as they follow certain requirements.

Both wine producers and restaurants that have the right permits to serve alcohol within their facilities can add alcoholic beverages to their to-go menus. In the case of wine producers, for example, they are to keep the products that they sell in their original casing. This is going to allow buyers to transport the product back to their homes without any issues.

Things to Know About Alcohol Beverage Control in California Law

The sale of uncapped beer to-go in takeout cocktails is actually more restricted than the sale of distilled spirits. What people typically won't find, are any of these beverages being sold in open containers. Businesses have to use a secure lid with a seal placed on it for the beverages they sell to-go.

This doesn't mean that people can't go to the store and buy a case of beer from the supermarket like they always have. The same rules apply to wine and spirits. If these beverages are sold in their original casing and are not opened by the buyer on their way home, everyone should be fine.

People could potentially consume these products in multiple locations. As long as they are not drinking on public property or while driving, they can take their cocktails anywhere else. In fact, the restrictions in regard to the cases in which these beverages are sold are meant to prevent drinking and driving.

What Type of Alcoholic Beverages Can be Sold To-Go?

Most of the alcohol sold at restaurants or bars can be taken home. As mentioned, however, the restaurants need to ensure that the drinks are properly sealed when they are handed to the customers. This is meant to prevent consumption while buyers are making their way to a private location where they can drink legally.

Some restaurants or bars could apply their own restrictions to the cocktails they sell to-go. This could come down to a license issue or their inability to seal the containers properly. Consumers should actually demand that the California restaurants they purchase spirits from package the drink accordingly.

Otherwise, they could be the ones in trouble for drinking and driving. Bars and restaurants, for their part, could also find themselves in hot water if they sell products to certain patrons.

Only the Person Who Ordered Them Can Pick-Up the Products

A DUI lawyer in Sacramento CA can advise that one of the most important regulations that California restaurants need to follow is that only the person who ordered the products can pick them up. These establishments need to verify the person's age and identity through a valid ID. Otherwise, the business could jeopardize its ability to sell alcohol.

Other regulations are set in place for the sale of these products. To be able to serve alcohol to a customer, for example, that person has to buy a meal from the establishment as well. There's also a limit to the number of takeout cocktails that people have access to.

Customers can only purchase two drinks per person under the current legislation. This applies to restaurants and bars that are selling blended cocktails. These limits won't necessarily apply to buying cases of beer or wine at a store.

Sometimes, restaurants can equate that to two drinks for the number of meals that a person orders. That way, an order from one person, particularly from a food delivery app, could contain more than two drinks in their order. Goss Law can also answer questions like Can you get a DUI for being hungover in California?

Are These Regulations Going to Remain in Place Long Term?

These regulations regarding alcohol delivery and to-go cocktails are set to be in place until the last day of the year 2026. That's the date that's set on the official bill that introduced these laws in the state of California. Once that date is reached, the legislation may be revisited.

It's a bit premature to say whether to-go alcohol consumption is here to stay in California. As long as the legislation doesn't lead to an increase in car accidents or inmates in the county jail, the bill could very well remain the same.

Final Thoughts on To-Go Alcohol Laws in California

Final Thoughts on To-Go Alcohol Laws in California

California is a state that's known for being open to moving with the times. It was one of the first states where smoking became prohibited virtually everywhere. However, when the tide began to shift, particularly with issues such as the sale and consumption of marijuana, it was a state that embraced that change.

This "wink" towards alcohol sales seems to be a bit out of character for the state in many regards, especially considering that restrictions on advertising for these products have increased progressively over the years. The pandemic certainly put not only the state but the entire country on its head.

With that in mind, it's a bit more understandable that this type of legislation could be set in motion. The bill is aimed at helping businesses recover from the losses that they sustained in the pandemic. It's not necessarily an endorsement of alcohol consumption.

Regardless of why this new legislation is in place, it's still in the consumers' best interest to not do anything unlawful. In this case, all they need to do is make sure they are getting their drinks in the right type of cup. Then, ensure they don't drink until they are in a private area where they can do so safely.


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