Alcohol laws in Germany
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The German laws regulating alcohol use and sale are some of the least restrictive ones in the world. The foremost function of restraints, as far as they exist, is youth protection. In contrast to many other countries (e.g., the United States), the legislation is not designed to keep young people away from alcohol completely, but rather to teach them an appropriate way of alcohol consumption.
Underage drinking in private is not regulated by a specific legal restriction. However, protection from physical and mental harm is part of parents' general obligation to care for a child. Regarding alcohol purchase and alcohol consumption in public places (such as pubs and restaurants), Germany has three drinking ages by § 9 Jugendschutzgesetz (Youth protection act):
- At 14 - minors are allowed to consume and possess undistilled (fermented) alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, as long as they are in the company of their parents or a legal guardian.
- At 16 - minors are allowed to consume and possess undistilled (fermented) alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine without their parents or a legal guardian.
- At 18 - having become adults, people are allowed access to distilled liquor.
Because of moral panic involving alcohol abuse among minors (a 16-year-old boy died after having consumed 52 shots of tequila in a bar in early 2007(3), the country tapped into their natural instincts and began lobbying for a raised drinking age. Most politicians, however, spoke against that notion, pointing out instead that such abuse already was forbidden according to current laws, which simply needed to be enforced. (English Translation:  In Germany and the rest of Europe, alcohol consumption by adolescents is traditional and generally accepted.
Violation of restraints will involve prosecution for vendors who sell alcohol to underage persons and also for bystanders who do not intervene in underage drinking. Although restrictions are nationwide and well-known, some salespersons violate the law at times. Minors themselves can never be prosecuted for illegal alcohol consumption. The supermarkets and stores generally check minors for their ID. It is less enforced in most bars and restaurants. But it can vary by location.
In 2008, the federal state of Lower Saxony started a series of trap purchases, conducted by specially trained police cadets, aged 16 or 17, who pose as customers. In 77% of all tests alcohol was sold illegally in shops, filling stations and kiosks. In 2009, about 3,000 trap purchases were carried out in Lower Saxony, in 1,327 cases (44%) alcohol was sold without age verification to underage persons. Hundreds of summary proceedings led to administrative fines ranging from 500 to 3,000 euros. The standard rate for the illegal sale of one bottle of brandy is 1,500 euros. Thus, alcohol trap purchases bring a return of around 2,000,000 euros annually. Other German states, especially Schleswig-Holstein, are considering implementing the Lower Saxony model, but states like Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg object to it.
Closing hours for bars and discotheques are not appointed by the state, but rather by towns and cities, generally or for individual locations. In recent years most towns have begun to abolish closing hours. However, the state of Baden-Württemberg has been the first to forbid the off-premises sale of liquor during night hours (10 pm to 5 am) since year 2010.
Public parties are prohibited nationally on Good Friday, and regionally on other holidays such as All Saints' Day. Buying alcohol remains possible at these times. Every shop can sell and serve alcoholic drinks without a permission. But every restaurant and bar has to fit visible the German youth protection act.
Beyond this, Germany has barely any restrictions on alcohol consumption in public. Exceptions are sometimes made in the context of highly controversial football (soccer) matches, where police executives may ban the sale of alcoholic drinks inside stadiums and deny entrance to drunk fans. In 2009, the private railway company Metronom, which operates in parts of Northern Germany, introduced a much-discussed complete ban on alcohol in its trains.
While it may have been culturally acceptable at one time to consume alcohol during work hours, occupational safety legislation has tightened down, enforcing rules designed to protect workers. Due to the increase of severe penalties, this legislation has led to the near disappearance of consumption in the work place.
- Alcohol Belts of Europe
- Alcoholic beverages - Age restrictions - Europe
- Beer in Germany
- Alcohol in Germany
- "Youth protection in public". Zentrum Bayern Familie und Soziales, Bayerisches Landesjugendamt. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- Korinth, Nadja (13 November 2007). "Attitudes to alcohol in Europe/Germany". BBC News. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- Springer, Axel. "In Baden-Württemberg gilt nachts Alkoholverbot". Die Welt. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- . Google Tranlate http://translate.google.com/#auto/en/Die%20Tankstellen%20würden%20ohnehin%20bereits%20bei%20Routine-Kontrollen%20überprüft%2C%20um%20zu%20sehen%2C%20ob%20etwa%20der%20Jugendschutz%20eingehalten%20wird%2C%20sagte%20ein%20Sprecher%20der%20Polizei%20in%20Ulm.%20Dabei%20solle%20dann%20auch%20das%20allgemeine%20nächtliche%20Verkaufsverbot%20kontrolliert%20werden. Retrieved 17 September 2013. Missing or empty
- "Alcohol sales forbidden at night in Baden-Württemberg". Die Welt. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
- "Ban on alcohol: Metronom takes actions". kreiszeitung.de. Retrieved November 9, 2011.
- Corral, Antonio. "Use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace". European Working Conditions Observatory. Retrieved 19 September 2013.