Drinking alcohol in public
It’s illegal to drink in public in many places in the UK. Find out the law here
We’re exploring ways to improve support for people struggling with their alcohol consumption through their loved ones, and we need your help.
By taking part in our survey, you can enter a prize draw where two £100 vouchers are up for grabs as a token of appreciation for your time.
Did you know that, depending on where you are, drinking alcohol in public could mean you’re breaking the law?
There are different laws and rules covering drinking alcohol in public, on public transport, and to prevent underage drinking in public too.
If you’re over 18, there aren’t any blanket restrictions against drinking in public in the UK. But local councils can put measures in place to stop drinking in certain areas where they believe alcohol could contribute to anti-social behaviour.
Drinking alcohol somewhere it’s been banned, or refusing to comply with a police officer’s request, can lead to a fine or an even being arrested.
PSPOs give police officers special powers to order a person to stop drinking alcohol in public and confiscate it from them.
Drinking alcohol is banned on many public transport services in the UK. For example, consuming alcohol or carrying an open container of alcohol isn’t allowed on:
Alcohol restrictions apply to many other bus or train services too – if you’re not sure, check with the operator of your service.
Usually, these bans are enforced through the operator’s terms and conditions for passengers. But refusing to comply could lead to the police getting involved.
It’s an offence to be drunk on a train in the UK – you could be given a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) and fined. You can also be refused permission to travel if you’re drunk.7
There are rail services in the UK (often longer distance routes) where buying or drinking alcohol are allowed. However, operators can decide to run ‘dry’ trains where you can’t consume or carry alcohol on board - for example trains going to football matches or other sporting events. Where this happens, notices are put up in advance to warn passengers.
Across the UK, it can be an offence to be drunk in a public place – for example if you’re causing a disturbance, or unable to look after yourself. Police have powers to issue fines, or make an arrest depending on the severity of the offence.
In England and Wales, if you commit an alcohol-related offence, you could also be given a Drinking Banning Order (DBO), which can mean you may not be allowed to drink or possess alcohol in public for a period of up to two years.8
Throughout the UK you can be stopped, fined or arrested by police if you’re under 18 and drinking alcohol in any public place (not just places with council restrictions). The police also have powers to confiscate alcohol, or move people on.9
 Transport for London website. Alcohol ban comes into force. Available at: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2008/may/alcohol-ban-comes-into-force-on-the-tube-trams-and-buses-from-this-sunday-1-june
 Translink website. Conditions of Carriage – Rail Services. Available at: https://www.translink.co.uk/usingourservicesandproducts/conditionsofcarriage/railservices#:~:text=Customers%20may%20only%20consume%20alcohol,being%20carried%20onto%20its%20premises [Accessed 17 November 2022]
Last Reviewed: 17th November 2022
Next Review due: 17th November 2025