Is it a Crime to Drink in Public?

August 7, 2021

Canadian liquor laws are constructed provincially and not federally. However, the Government of Canada considers a beverage alcoholic in nature if it contains 1.1% or more alcohol by volume.

The type of liquor you are consuming is irrelevant, it’s where you are drinking it and how it affects you that matters.

In the province of Ontario drinking in public and public intoxication are serious offences. It is a crime to have an open container in a public space, and that charge comes with a fine.

Just like drinking and driving, if you are caught in a state of public intoxication you will also be fined and detained until sober. Moreover, the Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Act is an Ontario provincial law that prohibits being drunk in a public place.

With the exception of Quebec, it is a violation of provincial acts and municipal bylaws to drink in public in most Canadian provinces.

You are, of course, permitted to consume alcohol in private residences or licensed premises such as bars and restaurants, but public parks, although they may seem like an ideal place to enjoy an alcohol beverage on a hot summer’s day, are not legal places to consume liquor.

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However, in Ontario Provincial Parks, you are permitted to consume alcohol on campsites for they are considered temporary residences.

Besides Ontario’s strict laws, under the Criminal Code of Canada any individual who interrupts the peace by causing an alcohol-fueled disturbance is committing an offence.

There are a variety of ways to cause a disturbance by being drunk in public such as shouting, fighting and public urination – this one is a double-edged sword because it is also a crime.

Furthermore, if you are intoxicated enough to cause a disturbance in a bar or other areas where alcohol consumption is allowed, you will be removed from the establishment and possibly taken into police custody.

Finally, sometimes being drunk in public without creating a disturbance is enough to receive a fine or be charged with an offence.

The legal drinking age also comes into play when it comes to public drunkenness. The provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec set their legal drinking age at 18; whereas, the remaining Canadian provinces have set their permissible alcohol consumption age at 19. If you are caught drunk in public and you are a minor (under 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec; under 19 in the rest of the country), it could result in a fine and court-mandated rehab.

If you have been charged for drinking in public or public intoxication, call the Toronto Defence Lawyers today.

Sources: AlcoholicBeveragesinCanadaWiki,, WilfredLaurier, CBC, AGCO

Jonathan Pyzer
Written By:
Jonathan Pyzer
Criminal Defence Lawyer (B.A., L.L.B.)
Jonathan is a highly skilled and sought after criminal defence lawyer who represents clients charged with criminal offences all over the Province of Ontario. He is a member in good-standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada, Criminal Lawyers’ Association and Toronto Lawyers Association.
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