Alcohol Permit Guidelines

University policy allows the use of alcoholic beverages on campus at group events under conditions that:

  1. reasonably protect the interests of the University;
  2. reduce the liability of the University;
  3. indicate that alcohol is incidental to the program being presented;
  4. prevent over-indulgence; and,
  5. support the laws related to alcohol use.

Decisions to approve or deny alcohol use on University premises are reached after an examination of specific event characteristics. Permits are not issued when either a single or a combination of characteristics creates adverse conditions for the University. In some cases special requirements may be imposed on an event to create an acceptable situation.

CES Alcohol Permit Approval Guidelines

The following planning characteristics are evaluated whenever a request is made to serve alcoholic beverages on University premises.

1.       Person in Charge

The person applying for an alcohol permit must be 21 years of age and have recognized authority or responsibility for the group; e.g., department chairperson, program director, student authorized by the group through the registered campus organization process. This person shall be responsible for compliance with applicable state laws, campus policies and procedures, and University policies. Violation of campus policies and procedures may result in cancellation of the event or future events and/or appropriate University disciplinary action. Attendance at the event and during the entire period alcohol is served is required.

2.       Type of Event

The sponsor shall state the purpose of the event and describe a program or activity that is consistent with the stated purpose.  The issuance of an alcoholic permit will be largely dependent on the purpose and program of the proposed event.  Non-alcoholic beverages (besides water) and food must be provided during the time alcohol is served.

A request for an alcohol permit to serve wine with dinner or to serve cocktails at a one-hour social before dinner for an awards banquet would normally be approved (assuming other characteristics of the event do not disclose potential problems).

A request for an alcohol permit to serve beer for six hours at a lodge event that has no other apparent program or activity defined would be denied.   The service of controlled amount of beer and wine as refreshments during a reception would normally be approved if an appropriate amount of food is also served.

3.       Composition of Group

California law states that persons under 21 years of age may not be furnished, served, or given alcoholic beverages. In order to provide for compliance, sponsors will be asked to describe their group (including guests) as part of the permit application process. The age of attendees will significantly influence the decision on whether to issue an alcohol permit.  Groups that are composed entirely of persons over 21 such as graduate student associations, faculty and staff groups, or combinations of these will generally receive approval (providing that other characteristics of the event do not present problems).

Groups that include significant numbers of persons under 21 will be reviewed individually, but generally will not be issued an alcohol permit. The number of people under the age of 21 must be less than 10% of the total attendance.

4.       Method of Determining Event Attendees

An alcohol permit may be issued only for closed events (not open to public or University community and not publicly advertised). Therefore, the sponsor will have to demonstrate how this condition will be met for the proposed event. A limited number of written invitations or printed tickets to the event is one way to establish attendance when the sponsoring organization is large or intends to invite guests. In many instances, a verbal invitation for the membership will be acceptable.  Groups are not to advertise their event via flyers, posters, newspaper ads, or through any other public media. If advertising is to be allowed, the proposed advertising must be approved by CES in advance and may not specify that alcohol is being served.

5.       Evidence of Planning

A minimum of 10 business days is required to process and issue an alcoholic beverage permit. The request must also produce evidence that sufficient planning has occurred to avoid potential problems associated with the event and the use of alcohol. A request to serve alcohol at an event scheduled fewer than 10 business days from the time of the request may be approved only when the sponsor can show that suitable planning has occurred despite the fact the request for an alcohol permit is being sought so close to the date of the event.

6.       Location of the Event

Approval for use of alcohol at group-sponsored events will normally be limited to events in the following areas:

  • Alumni Center
  • Putah Creek Lodge (Licensed registered caterer is required to provide alcohol service).
  • Gunrock Pub (University Catering by Sodexo is required to provide alcohol service)
  • Freeborn Hall
  • Memorial Union (Licensed registered caterer is required to provide alcohol service).
  • ARC Conference Center and Pavilion (Licensed registered caterer is required to provide alcohol service)
  • UC Davis Conference Center (Licensed registered caterer is required to provide alcohol service)

*All other outdoor areas including, but not limited to academic buildings, offices, classrooms, laboratories, and libraries are generally not approved.

7.       Hours of Event

Requests for alcohol permits will normally be approved only if they fall within the following time periods:

  • After 5 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Noon hour on weekdays only between 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, when accompanied by a luncheon.
  • After 12 noon on Saturday/Sunday or holidays.
  • For less than four hours. Events planned for more than four hours may be scheduled, but the service and consumption of alcohol will usually be limited to a four-hour period.
  • For more than four hours if a full sit down meal and after dinner if a dance is a component of the event.
  • Prior to 5 p.m. on weekdays, if the sponsor is a University department and the Department Chair, Dean or Vice Chancellor has approved service of alcohol (generally, alcohol permits would not be approved before 4 p.m.).

Approval of permits may also be influenced by other planned campus activities on the same date, particularly if the events are proposed in close proximity (time or physical space) to one another.


 8.       Kind, Amount, and Method of Alcohol Service

Alcoholic beverage permits are usually provided for the service of beer and wine which, as refreshments, are incidental to the main program. Non-alcoholic beverages and food must also be provided or available during the entire period alcohol is served. The event will be reviewed to determine the emphasis placed on alcohol, the proportion of servings of alcohol to the anticipated crowd, and the alcoholic content of the beverage. The type of beverage, event, service, and time must be coordinated to discourage the excessive use of alcohol, prevent over- indulgence, and meet legal requirements.

Appropriate controls will be imposed to guarantee such coordination, including requirements for bartenders, Aggie Hosts or limiting self-service. Larger groups will require more control at the dispensing point. Checking identification for proof of legal age is required unless the group is limited to persons at least 21 years of age. Acceptable identification consists of a valid driver's license with photo of other ID issued to non-drivers by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The burden of proof for showing legal age is placed upon the person desiring alcohol service. No service will be provided unless clear evidence of legal age is presented. Approval for alcohol quantities is calculated using the same system implemented by the state of California Alcohol and Beverage Control office based on the assumption that only 70% of attendees will consume alcohol for a maximum of a four hour service.    

NOTE: There shall be no sale of alcoholic beverages. Exchanging any consideration for alcoholic beverage constitutes a sale. "Consideration" includes money, tickets, tokens, or chits which have been issued in exchange for money or anything else of value. (See Alcohol Service Flow Chart)

9.       History of the Group/Event

In the review of an application to serve alcohol, the history of a group or event will be considered. A history may be available through lodge/facility reports which are completed following lodge events and other campus activities. In addition, Student Programs & Activities Center and Conference and Event Services staffs will consult other campus resources (e.g., faculty advisors, facility managers, etc.) as needed regarding the record of a group or particular event. A report of prior event problems may be cause for denial of permit or additional special condition.

10.   Attendance/Amplified Sound

Department sponsored events of 150 or more and graduate student events with an attendance of 100 or more normally require an Aggie Host for the duration of alcohol service. Events where alcohol is being served outdoors with amplified sound may require an Aggie Host regardless of attendance.

Please refer to UC Davis Policy 270-21: Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages for additional information.