Liquor and Alcohol Drinking laws in India | Age, Punishment for Public Drinking

हिंदी में पढ़ें
June 18, 2019
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

Did you know there are 13 essential minerals for the human body and all can be found in the liquor? However, you must also know that in India alcohol is the cause behind thousands of deaths.

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In India, there is no uniformity with respect to liquor laws and it varies from one State to another, be it the legal drinking age or the laws which regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol. These variations in the prices and laws revolving around alcohol are due to the inclusion of the subject of alcohol in the State list which comes under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

The drinking laws also list down the places where alcohol can be sold in the States. Where in some States, liquor may be sold at groceries, departmental stores, banquet halls and/or farm houses, some tourist areas having special laws allow the sale of alcohol on beaches and houseboats.


According to Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, if a person attempts to drive or drives a motor vehicle in a drunken state and if found with Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) exceeding 30 mg of intake per 100 ml of blood detected with the help of a Breath-analyser, then that person shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both. This law is also applicable for other drugs apart from alcohol under the influence of which the person is incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle.

Further, if the offence of drinking and driving is repeated by the offender within three years of the commission of the previous similar offence, then the offender shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both.

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Drinking in public creates nuisance and is therefore punishable by the law. Public drinking may not be a common site in India; however, car-o-bar has become a simpler way to drink for youngsters.

Consuming alcohol at public places will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 and if the offender creates nuisance than the fine shall be up to Rs 10,000 with a jail term of three months.


There are some days specifically when the sale of alcohol is prohibited. Republic Day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August) and Gandhi Jayanti (2 October) are usually dry days throughout India as they are considered as the National Holidays so every state is bound to celebrate that day as a DRY DAY. Other than these, there are a few more days that are observed as dry days but are specific to the States at large depending on their occasions and events. For example- the States which hold elections observe dry day during polling. 

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The following is the list of the states which are known as the “DRY STATES”

GUJARAT- The sale and consumption of liquor has been banned in the State since 1960. Only the non-residents of Gujarat can apply for limited Liquor Permits.

BIHAR- A total ban on alcohol was introduced in the State from April 4, 2016.

NAGALAND- The sale and consumption of alcohol has been banned since 1989.

MANIPUR – Partial prohibition of alcohol has been observed in the State since 2002.

LAKSHADWEEP- Consumption of liquor is only permitted in the island of Bangaram.

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The Constitution of India under Article 47 has empowered each state to bring out prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health, except for medicinal purpose. Each State has enacted different laws for liquor consumption and/or purchase, where some have completely banned it, others have enforced prohibition upto certain age limit.  

The permitted age prescribed by the law for consumption and purchasing of alcohol is different in each State. It is pertinent to note that there is also a difference in the legal age to purchase and the legal age to consume alcohol within a State. In a lot of States it is assumed that both the permitted ages are the same, however there exists a difference. In most states, if you're an adult you are eligible to buy liquor, however to be able to consume the same the permitted age differs from 18 years to 25 years.

Here is a list of the minimum drinking age in different states-

State/Union Territory Age limit
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 21
Andhra Pradesh 21
Arunachal Pradesh 21
Assam 25
Bihar Illegal (Total ban)
Chandigarh 25
Chhattisgarh 21
Daman and Diu 25
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 25
Delhi 25
Goa 18
Gujarat Illegal (Total ban)
Haryana 25
Himachal Pradesh 18
Jammu and Kashmir 18
Jharkhand 21
Karnataka 21
Kerala 23
Lakshadweep Illegal (except island of Bangaram)
Madhya Pradesh 21
Maharashtra 18 for Wine
21 for Beer
25 for Others
Manipur Illegal (Partial ban)
Meghalaya 21
Mizoram 21
Nagaland Illegal
Odisha 21
Puducherry 18
Punjab 25
Rajasthan 18
Sikkim 18
Tamil Nadu 21
Telangana 21
Tripura 21
Uttar Pradesh 21
Uttarakhand 21
West Bengal 21


These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer
These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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User Reviews

4.6 - 20 reviews

What is the legal age to purchase alcohol?

Monica on Sep 14, 2020

please enlist the reasons for liquor ban

Pinky on Sep 15, 2020

is there a cap on possession of alchohol?

Suresh on Sep 08, 2020

Please refer a lawyer for drink and drive case?

Jatin on Aug 05, 2020

nice article, please share info on how to obtain liquor license for pubs. Thanks

Sushant on Aug 28, 2020

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Sandhya on Sep 11, 2020

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Sushma on Sep 01, 2020

Gave me a very clear idea of the subject.

Manju on Sep 09, 2020

loved the way concept is explained. Nicely written for any layman to understand.

Richa on Aug 12, 2020