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Liquor and Alcohol Drinking Laws in India: Age & Punishment for Public Drinking

हिंदी में पढ़ें
July 11, 2023
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty



Table of Contents

  1. What is the law on drinking and driving in India?
  2. Is drinking in public places legal in India?
  3. What is the punishment for public drinking of alcohol in Delhi?
  4. What is the punishment for public drinking in Telangana?
  5. What is the punishment for drinking alcohol in Gujarat?
  6. What is the punishment for drinking and misbehaving in public places under Indian Penal Code (IPC)?
  7. Dry Days
  8. Dry States in India
  9. Legal Age For Purchase and Drinking of Alcohol
  10. How can a lawyer help you?

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 farmhouses, some tourist areas have special laws that allow the sale of alcohol on beaches and houseboats. Some states even ban the sale of liquor in its entirety. 
 



What is the law on drinking and driving in India?

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 a fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both.

Moreover, negligent and rash driving (which includes driving under the influence of alcohol) is a criminal offence and is punishable under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 279)

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Is drinking in public places legal in India?

Drinking in public is generally not legal in India. Laws governing alcohol consumption and sale vary between states, but in many parts of the country, it is prohibited to consume alcohol in public places such as streets, parks, and beaches.

Some states may allow drinking in licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants, but the rules and regulations regarding alcohol consumption and sale can vary widely from state to state.

Drinking in public creates a 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.

 

What is the punishment for public drinking of alcohol in Delhi?

No, drinking in public is not legal in Delhi. The consumption of alcohol in public places such as streets, parks, and beaches is prohibited in Delhi as per the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.

Under the law, anyone found consuming alcohol in a public place can be fined and may also face arrest. The law applies to both Indian citizens and foreigners.

However, drinking in licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants that have obtained the required permits is legal in Delhi.

The punishment for public drinking in Delhi as per the Delhi Excise Act, 2009 can include both fines and imprisonment.

If someone is caught consuming alcohol in a public place, they can be fined up to Rs. 5,000 for the first offence, and for subsequent offences, the fine may go up to Rs. 10,000.

In addition to the fine, if the person is unable to pay the fine, they may face imprisonment for a period of up to 6 months. The police may also confiscate the alcohol that the person was consuming at the time of the offence.

It is important to note that the specific punishment may vary based on the nature and severity of the offence, and the decision is at the discretion of the concerned authorities.
 



What is the punishment for public drinking in Telangana?

Public drinking is also not legal in Telangana. As per the Telangana Excise Act, 1968, it is an offence to consume alcohol in public place such as streets, parks, and beaches.

If someone is caught drinking in public, they can face punishment which can include a fine of up to Rs. 10,000 for the first offence, and for subsequent offences, the fine may go up to Rs. 25,000. Additionally, if the person is unable to pay the fine, they may face imprisonment for up to 6 months.

What is the punishment for drinking alcohol in Gujarat?

Public drinking is also not legal in Gujarat. As per the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949, it is an offence to consume alcohol in public places such as streets, parks, and beaches.

If someone is caught drinking in public, they can face punishment which can include a fine of up to Rs. 5,000 for the first offence, and for subsequent offences, the fine may go up to Rs. 10,000. Additionally, if the person is unable to pay the fine, they may face imprisonment for up to 3 months.

In Gujarat, the law is very strict when it comes to alcohol consumption, sale, and possession. The state has a complete ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol, and anyone found violating the law can face severe punishment, including imprisonment for up to 10 years.

 



What is the punishment for drinking and misbehaving in public places under Indian Penal Code (IPC)?

Section 510, Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes ‘misconduct in public by a drunken person’. This Section states that whoever, in a state of intoxication, appears in any public place, or in any place which it is a trespass in him to enter, and there conducts himself in such a manner as to cause annoyance to any person, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty-four hours, or with fine which may extend to ten rupees, or with both.

Apart from the above provision Section 279, IPC also gets attracted if the person while under the influence of alcohol drives on a public way in a rash and negligent manner. This Section states that whoever drives any vehicle, or rides, on any public way in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
 



Dry Days

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. However, different states of India also have different Dry days, depending upon a cultural/State celebration or festival.

For example, in Maharashtra, Ram Navmi, Holi, Id-Ul-Fitr, Ganesh Chaturthi, Raksha Bandhan, Christman, etc. are dry days. In Delhi, Maha Shivratri, Buddha Purnima, Dussehra, Diwali, Guru Nanak Jayanti, etc. are dry days. 
 

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Dry States in India

The following is the list of the states which are known as the "DRY STATES" where there is a prohibition:

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

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

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

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

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


Consult:  T op Criminal Lawyers in India

 



Legal Age For Purchase and Drinking of Alcohol

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

How can a lawyer help you?

Sometimes the law and the legal framework can get confusing and difficult to understand, especially when the issue is regarding a matter governed by different State laws. In such a scenario, one may not realize how to determine the legal issue, the area to which the issue relates to, whether the issue requires going to court and, how the court procedure works. Seeing a lawyer and getting some legal advice can enable you to comprehend your choices and can give you the certainty to enable you to determine your legal recourse if need be. An experienced attorney can give you expert advice on how to handle your issue owing to his years of experience in handling such cases. A good criminal lawyer is an expert on the laws and can help you avoid significant mistakes that may cause financial harm or will require future legal proceedings to correct. You can also  ask a lawyer online  a free legal question using LawRato's Ask a Free Question service.



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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Comments by Users


Sunny
What is the punishment of selling illegal liquor

Reply by LawRato
The punishment for selling illegal liquor may vary from state to state. For example, according to the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, the penalty for selling spurious liquor is 6 months imprisonment and fine which may extend to one lakh rupees. 

Ankita
Mam, I want to close a win shop in our society..so whats the steps to be take..

Reply by LawRato
Since your question requires more information in order to guide you better, it is advised that you click on the link below and send in your query for Free Legal Advice. 

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Sonu
In my area local people are drinking and creating nuisance in public places and no one takes actions against them. What to do. Help me out.

Reply by LawRato
You can complain to the nearest police station against such nuisance. It is recommended to take the help of a lawyer. You can hire a criminal lawyer by clicking on the link below:

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Dilip
I was drinking in a parked car in vacant ground as it was raining and random cops asked to come to police station or fine 4000

Reply by LawRato

Drinking in a parked car is subject to the same penalty as drinking in public, which is an offence in Indian law. Therefore, you cannot allege any mental harassment for imposition of fine upon breaking the law.

Murtuza Morbiwala
Is consuming alochol down in the residential areas in Mumbai is allowed ?

Vishnu
Mam I Actually my age is 15 years.I am studying 10th now.My Father is daily drinking the alchol and coming to home and irritating me and my mother and sister

Shritika
One of my friend's bakery his worker drinks alcohol in work time and no one is there in his family no identity he have and my frnd scared if worker died in this situation then it will be responsible

Nitin Sharma
Hi , In our apartments some group of boys drink in open and shout etc . Even RWA ignores it as they too fear them . What should be the way to treat this nuisance .

Rahul Yadav sir
Sonpal singh, you can file a general diary in your nearest police station about this type of antisocial activities.

SONPAL SINGH
If we are living in our house, and our neighbours are drinking alcohol daily & making noise which disturb our kids who are focussing on their study. What is the legal action against the drinkers?

Nikhil
Can I carry liquor with me on a dry day? Is it legal to carry it outside on a dry day in maharashtra?

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is there a cap on possession of alchohol?

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What is the legal age to purchase alcohol?

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please enlist the reasons for liquor ban

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Please refer a lawyer for drink and drive case?

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