Alcohol Restrictions at Community Events


Alcohol restrictions at community events are policies that control the availability and use of alcohol at public venues (e.g., concerts, street fairs, and sporting events). Restrictions can be implemented voluntarily by event organizers or through local legislation.


To reduce commercial availability of alcohol to underage youth 

Typical Elements

  • Individuals/organizations with the expertise needed to evaluate current policies (if restrictions exist). Their strategies can include: (Imm et al., 2007):
    • Gathering information about any problems associated with specific public events. For example, talking to police, licensing agencies, facility managers, event coordinators, and property owners near the events.
    • Evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, and enforcement of the existing alcohol control policies and restrictions.
  • Individuals/organizations with the expertise needed to define policy parameters and language (if no policy is currently in place) (Imm et al., 2007). They can address alcohol advertising by, for example:
    • Prohibiting alcohol advertising that promotes underage drinking.
    • Prohibiting free alcohol samples and/or promotional materials.
    • Requiring event organizers to obtain approval in advance for all alcohol advertising.
    • Limiting alcohol advertising to areas restricted to adults.
    • Establishing guidelines and limits on the nature of sponsorship from the alcohol industry. Guidelines should address a limit on how much of the event budget can be underwritten by alcohol interests and clearly define what sponsors will receive in return for their sponsorship.
    • Requiring posted signs throughout the event area regarding alcohol policy. Signs should be clearly posted and designate areas where drinking is permitted or not permitted.
  • Address alcohol serving and possession by, for example:
    • Designating restricted drinking sections at events where young people are not allowed.
    • Prohibiting alcoholic beverages or open containers in unsupervised locations.
    • Banning attendants and participants in community events from bringing alcohol.
    • Prohibiting drinking by servers.
    • Providing staff with training and guidelines regarding alcohol service.
    • Requiring servers to be at least 21 years old.
    • Using cups for alcoholic beverages that are easily distinguishable from non-alcoholic beverage cups.
    • Stopping the serving of alcohol at least one hour before closing.
    • Establishing policies for alcohol sales. Policies should include price, ID checking requirements and procedures, drink limits, and sales area to minimize inappropriate and excessive alcohol consumption.
    • Instituting alcohol-free nights and/or days at the events.
    • Including food and non-alcoholic drink sales and providing free water.
  • Address enforcement and limitations by, for example:
    • Establishing procedures for handling policy violations and handling intoxicated drinkers. These procedures should be standardized and in place prior to an event.
    • Requiring onsite event security personnel who are trained to handle policy violations and intoxicated drinkers.
    • Requiring the alcohol license holder to have liability insurance.
    • Restricting or banning the issuance of alcohol licenses at youth and family-related events.
  • Media advocacy strategies to build public support for new or existing restrictions.


  • Youth under age 21
  • Event organizers


Specific types of restrictions at community events have been linked to reductions in underage drinking behaviors and consequences:

  • A beer ban policy at a university football stadium has been linked to reductions in arrests, assaults, ejections from the stadium, and student referrals to the judicial affairs office (Bormann & Stone, 2001).
  • Campus-based alcohol restrictions have been linked to reductions in the number of neighborhood calls for complaints related to homecoming activities (Johannssen, Glider, Collins, Hueston & DeJong, 2001).
  • Community festivals with a greater number of alcohol control policies have reduced alcohol sales to pseudo-underage customers than community festivals with no or few policies (Toomey, Erickson, Patrek, Fletcher, & Wagenaar, 2005).

Community events restricting the number of drinks per person reduced more sales of alcohol to pseudo-underage purchasers than those without that restriction (Toomey et al., 2005).


Community Festivals Materials

Policies to Reduce Social Access to Alcohol

Preventing Underage Alcohol Access: Essential Elements for Policy, Deterrence, and Public Support

Preventing Underage Drinking: Using Getting to Outcomes™ with the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework to Achieve Results


Athena Forum: Excellence in Prevention


Bormann, C., & Stone, M. (2001). The effects of eliminating alcohol in a college stadium: The Folsom Field beer ban. Journal of American College Health, 50(2), 81–88.

Imm, P., Chinman, M., Wandersman, A., Rosenbloom, D., Guckenburg, S., & Leis, R. (2007). Preventing underage drinking: Using Getting To Outcomes™ with the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework to achieve results. Retrieved from

Johannessen, K., Glider, P., Collins, C., Hueston, H., & DeJong, W. (2001). Preventing alcohol-related problems at the University of Arizona’s homecoming: An environmental management case study. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, 27(3), 587–597.

Toomey, T. L., Erickson, D. J., Patrek, W., Fletcher, L. A., & Wagenaar, A. C. (2005). Illegal alcohol sales and use of alcohol control policies at community festivals. Public Health Reports, 120(2), 165–173.