6 Need-to-Know Alcohol Laws in the British Isles

By Kaylee Pratt
Posted in The Field Guide to Drinking in America, on November 04, 2016

Scotland's Brisbane Glen Road in Autumn

Nothing fits fall like chilly fog, warm drinks, and colorful trees. A trip to the British Isles is sure to curb your autumnal needs: beautiful foliage and the perfect fall climate. (And for those of you who dislike the cold, Britain is experiencing a warmer fall than normal this year. All the more reason to visit!)

As you cuddle in cashmere in London - or bundle up in a nice wool coat in Dublin - you might want to sip something to brace yourself against the chill. Though the rules are a little different across the pond, here are six things you need to know to enjoy an Irish coffee or a hot toddy:

A hot whiskey toddy

1. In case you didn’t already know, the legal drinking age in all the British Isles is 18.

2. In Ireland, though, it’s completely illegal to give anyone under the age of 18 an alcoholic beverage, unless in a domestic home with parental consent. 

3. If you feel like making your mix at home, remember that off-licence sales of alcohol (think convenience stores, supermarkets, and liquor stores) in the UK, Ireland, and Scotland generally end at 10 PM every day.

4. Since August of 2003, it’s illegal in Ireland to sell alcohol at reduced prices for a “limited period”... In other words, “happy hour” is prohibited. You’ll be paying in full for that pint of Guinness!

5. In some places, the legal limit of blood-alcohol content depends on your age and driving experience.

6. And, most importantly: in Scotland, it is illegal to be drunk and in charge of a cow. Perpetrators could be jailed for up to 51 weeks, so please, leave your cows at home.

Enjoy the fall weather, and if you happen to jump on a plane for an autumnal adventure, enjoy everything the world has to offer. Or, if you prefer the road over the skies, explore the fall colors of the Unites States, and be sure to check of Niki Ganong’s Field Guide to Drinking in America. Happy travels!