Know your rights: The law on outdoor drinking

What has changed in the law on drinking outdoors?

The law on drinking outdoors was recently changed to clarify that pubs and restaurants can serve alcohol to customers who are seated in ‘designated areas’ outside the premises.

Pubs and restaurants have been unable to open for indoor service due to COVID-19 restrictions. Local authorities have permitted outdoor seating in designated outdoor areas, but, previously, it was illegal to serve alcohol in those areas.

There has been no change to the laws about drinking outside in public places that are not ‘designated areas’ of a licensed premises. Drinking outdoors is not prohibited in general, but local authorities have bye-laws that don’t allow drinking in some or all public places.

If you are drinking in public and behaving in a way that could cause worry for safety, the Gardaí can confiscate your alcohol. They can also confiscate alcohol if it is being drunk by a person under 18, or if they have cause to believe that it will be consumed by a person under 18.

It is an offence to consume alcohol bought in a closed container (like a bottle or can) within 100 metres of the off-licence where it was sold. The law does not forbid a pub from delivering drinks to people’s homes, or stop customers from  bringing drinks home.

It is also an offence to be so drunk in a public place that you could reasonably be assumed to be a danger to yourself or to anyone around you.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on