Skip to main content

Washington State Drinking Laws You Might Not Know About

Washington State Drinking Laws You Might Not Know About

Have you ever been to a restaurant or bar and noticed the bartender just keeps serving an obviously intoxicated person more drinks?  Sure it seems the patron accepting the drinks is on cloud 9 having a great time and the bartender hopes their tip will increase with each new drink made, but what both of these people are unaware of is that over service of alcohol is illegal in the State of Washington.  Or have you ever seen a bartender turn and take a quick shot during a hectic night of work?  Seems like they should be allowed to drink when the bar is that crazy busy, however, drinking while at work is illegal too.

Here are a few Washington State laws pertaining to drinking alcohol that you might not know about.

1.  Over Service of Alcohol (RCW 66.44.200, WAC 314.16.150)

  • Alcohol may not be sold to an individual that is intoxicated.
  • An individual that is obviously intoxicated may not possess alcohol, open or unopened.
  • All alcohol must be removed from an overly intoxicated individual and further service of alcohol must be refused.
  • An intoxicated customer may remain at your business as long as they do not possess alcohol, this allows time for them to sober up and prevent situations like DUI (driving under the influence).

2.  Disorderly Conduct by Business Owners, Staff, or Customers (WAC 314.11.015)

  • Businesses can not allow disorderly conduct by customers, owners, or employees, they must call police if a fight breaks out etc.
  • No owner or employee may drink alcohol while working, this includes on site DJ’s, musicians, and karaoke operators.
  • Business owners and employees are not allowed to be intoxicated at their place of employment no matter if they are working or not working.

3.  Minors, Individuals Under The Age of 21(RCW 66.44.270, RCW 66.41.310, WAC 314.11.020, WAC 314.16.150)

  • Alcohol may not be sold to an individual under the age of 21 years.
  • Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited to possess alcohol, even if the alcohol container is closed or sealed.
  • Minors are not allowed in age-restricted areas, taverns, or lounges.

Establishments that do not abide by these laws and have histories of DUI, complaints, and police referrals are often targeted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.  The Liquor Control Board will monitor these businesses through undercover operations to observe and watch for law violations.  They will also investigate through compliance checks where they will send minors into establishments to purchase alcohol.  If laws are broken, the Liquor Control Board may issue fines, revoke licenses, and in worst case scenarios, shut a business down.


Written by S.O

Initiative 502- Legalization of Marijuana, what’s happening?

Initiative 502- Legalization of Marijuana, what’s happening?

A lot of people are wondering, just as I am, with the implementation of the legalized recreational marijuana system passed by Washington voters with Initiative 502 what’s going to happen?  As a DUI attorney/ criminal attorney I’m especially interested in having a pulse on what’s going on.  As of January 18, 2013, the Washington State Liquor Control Board is now seeking proposals for marijuana consulting services in: product and industry knowledge, product quality standards and testing, product usage and consumption validation and product regulation.  This is good news.  It’s great to see progress and the State requesting consultants to assist in Initiative 502 implementation.  Times have definitely changed here in Washington.  What remains to be seen is will the change be considered a positive one for all of us.

As a Seattle attorney who represents those accused of Driving Under the Influence DUI/drunk driving cases I’m interested in how the State will prosecute such cases as it relates to marijuana consumption.  The real issue in Marijuana DUI cases is whether or not the driver’s ability to drive was affected by consuming marijuana.  Factors to consider of signs of intoxication would include but not limited to, active components of THC in a driver’s system, time of last consumption in relation to time of driving, and the driving observed.  Just as with alcohol consumption, marijuana consumption and it’s effects on individuals vary considerably.  As a result, I think marijuana DUI cases are tough to defend but even tougher to prosecute.


Published by David O