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California law places restrictions on when businesses can sell alcohol. Even though it’s legal to drink alcohol in California if you’re over 21 years of age, there are still restrictions on when you can buy alcohol. Drinking alcohol has been legal in California since the repeal of prohibition. However, states can still create rules about alcohol sales. California Business and Professions Code Section 25631 BPC restricts when businesses can sell alcohol. Specifically, it’s illegal to sell alcohol between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
California law makes it a crime for any business, their representative or their employee to sell alcohol between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. If a sale occurs at 1:55 a.m. or at 6:05 a.m., the person making the sale is in compliance with the law. If the sale occurs during the prohibited hours, the person who sells the alcohol is outside the bounds of the law.
There are even special rules that apply to explain how it works during daylight savings time changes. On a day when the clocks spring ahead or fall behind, 2:00 a.m. begins for the purposes of the law two hours after midnight the day before. When the clocks spring forward for daylight savings time, alcohol sales don’t end until the clock reads 3:00 a.m. with an immediate time change from 2:00 to 3:00 a.m. When clocks switch back in the fall, sales end at 2:00 a.m. and sales aren’t allowed again for five hours instead of the usual four.
Selling alcohol during prohibited hours is a misdemeanor. The person who is convicted can spend up to six months in jail for the offense. In addition, they can lose their ability to sell alcohol lawfully. The court can also impose hefty fines and a term of probation.
For the purposes of California law 25631 BPC, any kind of alcohol sale is prohibited in the early morning hours. A business can’t sell alcohol by the drink or in a package. In other words, the form of the alcohol doesn’t matter. You can’t buy alcohol between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. in California.
If you’re charged with selling alcohol during prohibited hours, you have a right to a trial on the charges against you. You can testify in your own defense. You might also call witnesses to question them such as the person who tried to buy alcohol from you or any other witnesses who were present at the scene. You can make arguments to the jury.
One common defense to the charges is that you didn’t sell alcohol. If you’re at a party and you give a beer to the person next to you at 2:20 a.m., you haven’t broken the law. In addition, if you’re over 21 years old and you drink a beer that you purchased legally, you haven’t broken any laws even if you drink the beer at 4:00 a.m.
If a business faces action against their license to sell alcohol, another defense might be that the person who sold the alcohol wasn’t making the sale on behalf of the business. For example, if the employee’s spouse came to the business at 3:00 a.m. while their spouse was working, they might have quick helped make a sale during prohibited hours while the spouse was otherwise occupied. That person might not know the law or be trained to know that they shouldn’t make the sale. In this case, the person who sells the alcohol isn’t acting with the authority of the business. They’re acting on their own.
When you face a charge of selling alcohol between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., it’s important to address the case from all sides. You face consequences ranging from seeing a conviction on your criminal record to losing your job to having to pay costly fines. When you understand the charges you’re facing and the potential penalties, you can defend yourself against the allegations. An experienced California criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the case against you and plan the best course of action.