Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

California BP § 25658-Selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor!

It is a misdemeanor in California to sell or furnish alcohol to a minor (someone under the state legal drinking age of 21). Penalties usually include $250 to $1000 in fines and 24 to 32 hours of community service.

California law also prohibits minors under 21 from purchasing alcohol or consuming it on the premises of a.

      • bar,
      • restaurant, or
      • store

The penalties are as follows:

 California BP § 25658 crime, a misdemeanor

      • Alcohol vendor permitting underage drinking on the premises
          • $250 in fines, and/or
          • 24 to 32 hours of community service
      • Selling or giving alcohol to an underage person
        • If the minor’s drinking results in great bodily harm or death to anyone:
          • 6 months to 1 year in jail, and/or
          • $1,000 in fines


      • $1,000 in fines, and
      • At least 24 hours of community service
    • An underage person buying alcohol or consuming it on the premises
      • First offense:
          • $250 in fines, and/or
          • 24 to 32 hours of community service
      • Second or subsequent offense:
          • Up to $500 in fines, and/or
          • 36 to 48 hours of community service

Sting operations called “Operation Trapdoor” around school, colleges and local community parks where young people congregate is how most of such “busts” occur.  This is done with cooperation with ABC and local law enforcement. Usually, an under-aged person will pay someone to go buy them liquor from a store.  They may also use a fake ID or simply hope the cashier doesn’t ask for an ID.


      • Mistake of Fact; and/or
      • Additional Statutory Exemptions.
        • Mistake of fact
          • Mistake of fact may not work for strict liability crimes and B&P 25658(a) is a strict liability crime. Mistaken about someone’s age is not a defense. The trend is changing to where if a jury honestly and reasonably believe there was a mistake about minor’s age, it can serve as a defense.
          • However, Business and Professions Code 25660 is a defense where a licensee either sells alcohol to a minor or allows a minor to consume alcohol on their premises, they may be absolved of criminal liability if you did so because you reasonably relied on bona fide (that is, “genuine”) government-issued I.D. cards.
      • If you inspected the I.D. and it looked as if it were genuine, you would be exempt from prosecution and/or an Alcoholic Beverage Control license suspension/revocation.  However, if the I.D. did not appear to be genuine, you would still face liability for this crime.

Furnishing alcohol to a minor who causes great bodily injuries:

      • Selling or giving alcohol to a minor carries a $1,000 fine and at least 24 hours of community service. But if the minor consumes the alcohol and then causes great bodily injury or death to him/herself or someone else, the defendant faces a $1,000 fine and/or six months to one year in jail.
      • In addition to or in lieu of this criminal charge, prosecutors could charge defendants with violating PC 272; contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If convicted, defendant (s) face a maximum of one year of jail time and a maximum fine of $2,500.

Along these same lines, when parents or legal guardians knowingly allow their child and/or another child who is under 18 years old to consume an alcoholic beverage or controlled substance in their home, they face a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine if:

If possible, the community service will be performed at an alcohol or drug treatment facility or at a county coroner’s office.

Additionally, defendants between the ages of 13 and 21 at the time of the offense face a one-year driver’s license suspension. For defendants who have not yet obtained a driver’s license, their ability to drive will be postponed for one year from the date that they are otherwise eligible to obtain a license. And subsequent violations will result in an additional one-year suspension or delay.19

Bars/Restaurants serving an underage youth:

People convicted of being an on-sale licensee (like at a bar or restaurant) and permitting an underage person to drink on the licensed premises, even if they did not know that the person was under 21, face a $250 fine and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service.

Additionally, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) may suspend the defendant’s alcohol license for 15 days following the first conviction. A second conviction within a 36-month period will result in a 25-day suspension. A third conviction will result in a license revocation. For a first or second conviction, licensees may petition the ABC to pay a fine in lieu of serving the alcohol license suspension.

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