What Is The Drinking Age In Brazil?

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Alcohol is a staple for sporting venues, parties, and other celebratory events. However, Brazil has strict laws that govern alcohol, with severe consequences for those who oppose it. Knowing these will make traveling to Brazil much more pleasant, so let’s discuss the drinking age in Brazil!

The drinking age in Brazil is 18. Anyone caught selling, serving, or giving alcohol to someone under 18 is liable for imprisonment and fines, and businesses lose their right to sell alcohol. The “dry law” allows police to administer breathalyzers and punish anyone above 0% blood alcohol content.

Related: Why Does Brazil Speak Portuguese?

How Old Must You Be To Drink In Brazil?

The Brazilian Congress enacted a law 13.016 on March 17, 2015, that prohibits serving or supplying alcohol to anyone under the age of 18. President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned it on March 18, 2015.

It also goes by the Statute of Children and Adolescents and aims to build a legal framework that protects young adolescents in Brazil from the effects of alcohol.

Why Did Brazil Enact A Drinking Law In 2015?

  • Brazil’s population consumed abnormally high amounts of alcohol across all age groups, which was evident in accident reports. Statistics for violence, mental disorders, liver diseases, and traffic collisions were at an all-time high.
  • Alcohol became one of the leading causes of death in young people, contributing heavily to accidents and homicide.
  • Alcoholism became a significant problem in all age groups. A study in Brazil involving 75,000 people aged 12 – 17 revealed that 21% consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, even though the legal drinking age was 18. 
  • The methods authorities used to regulate previous drinking laws were inefficient. The numerous informal and unregulated drinking outlets made it challenging to monitor alcohol sales and consumption.

Young people did not want to comply with alcohol laws, and their parents did not enforce them. Alcohol developed into a symbol of cultural maturity and social acceptability. The alcohol sector vehemently opposed restrictions on their marketing strategies.

  • WHO (World Health Organization) put their weight behind the Brazilian government to create change. They introduced mass-media campaigns awareness programs and implemented better alcohol consumption practices. An example is the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

What Are Brazil’s Legal Consequences For Intoxication?

Any person or vendor caught giving, selling, or serving alcohol to someone under 18 will face serious legal consequences. Punishment includes all of the following:

  • 2 – 4 years in prison
  • A fine of 3.000 REAL ($616 USD) to 10.000 REAL ($2053 USD)
  • Guilty businesses will have their right to sell or serve alcohol revoked

What Is The “Dry Law” In Brazil?

Brazil’s law 11.705 is also called the “dry law .”Brazil’s Congress enacted it in 2008, and President President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sanctioned it in 2008. It wasn’t until 2022, after a lengthy debate, that Brazil’s Supreme Court declared it entirely constitutional.

The law intends to tighten the restrictions around alcohol, administering harsh penalties for motor vehicle drivers who drive while inebriated. It amends the Brazilian Traffic Code.

It states that drivers on the road may not have more than 0% alcohol content in their system. Law enforcement can willfully request breathalyzer tests if they consider a driver’s behavior erratic.

Some did not agree with the law and challenged it in 2012 under the American Convention on Human Rights.

Disagreeing parties argued that it was unethical and a human rights violation that a roadside alcohol test is permissible as evidence in criminal proceedings. It violated their right to avoid self-incriminating themselves.

Despite strong opposition, the Supreme Court ruled that the positive effects that would come from administering willful breathalyzers outweigh individual rights. As a result, the law became enforceable.

Yay Caipirinha – Brazil’s national cocktail – a trip to Brazil is not complete without

Where In Brazil Can You Buy Alcohol?

Despite Brazil’s stringent laws regarding alcohol, most retail stores sell it in abundance. Plenty of grocers and supermarkets offer wines, beers, and other liquor every day of the week.

  • It’s common to find kiosks and snack stands scattered throughout the streets and beaches of Brazil. These vendors sell soft drinks, alcohol, and snacks.  
  • Local bars and restaurants stock an impressive variety of alcoholic beverages. It’s possible to find local drinks like caipirinha and cachaça or international wines and beers.
  • Tourists and young people are frequent visitors to Brazil’s nightclubs and parties. These establishments tend to have a cover charge and a minimum consumption requirement.

Due to Brazil’s strict drinking laws, people or establishments may ask for identification. It’s especially true for foreign travelers and those who look young. Travelers who wish to purchase alcohol in Brazil would be wise to carry a valid form of identification. It may include their passport or driver’s license.

Is Alcohol In Brazil Prohibited In Some Areas?

Drinking is typically not permissible in religious areas, schools & universities, and hospitals. However, in Brazil, alcohol is also disallowed on any form of public transportation and even sports venues.

Public Transportation

Since alcoholism profoundly affects the death rate in Brazil because of intoxicated drivers, authorities eliminated it from public transport. Alcohol is not permissible on buses, taxis, roads, and all other forms of road transport.

As for non-road transport – boats and planes – there are strict rules for these modes of transportation, too.

The Brazilian Navy has strict rules against alcohol consumption on any vessel. They can conduct random inspections and test boat operators without prior warning. Operators under the influence will lose their boating license, pay a fine, or authorities will seize their vessel. 

The Brazilian Civil Aviation Authority conducts similar sporadic investigations on pilots and crew members, with the same punishments but the addition of dismissal. They limit the sale of alcohol onboard and how much passengers can consume.

Sports Venues, Events, And Stadiums

Sports venues often reverberate with the loud cheers of supporting fans. Some fans who drink excessively can sometimes become too supportive and start violent interactions with other spectators.

For this reason, Brazilian authorities enacted a law in 2003 that prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol in stadiums, competitions, and arenas.

Anyone found violating the ban was subject to fines, expulsion from the venue, or were eligible to have their drinks confiscated. However, Brazil temporarily lifted the ban for the 2014 FIFA World Cup but reinstated it afterward.

Since its reinstatement, some municipalities and states showed discontent and challenged the law, while others relaxed restrictions.