Like all states, the minimum age for drinking alcohol in California is 21. However, unlike other states, there are no exceptions to this rule in California. For example, some states allow minors to drink alcohol under the allowance and supervision of their parent or legal guardian, but this is not allowed in California.
In California, minors who violate the legal age drinking laws for the first time face a $250 fine and 24-32 hours of community service. For subsequent violations, the minor is looking at a fine of $500 maximum and 36 to 48 hours of community service. If they have their driver’s license, it can be suspended for 1 year.
Any individual who is caught providing the minor with alcohol faces a $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service. This applies to California parents who give alcohol to their own children.
Retail businesses who are caught selling alcohol to minors will have to pay a $1,000 fine and the vendor can potentially go to county jail for anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. These consequences also apply to an adult, like a parent, if the minor consumes alcohol and then causes serious injury or death to themselves or another.
So, California parents, even if you give only one, low-alcohol content cocktail to your 20 year old, and they drink it in your presence and show the alcohol does not affect their judgment and maturity, you are still committing a crime, and so is your child. Just look forward to the 21st birthday, okay?