Washington’s Alcohol Laws and Rules

Providing alcohol to minors is a gross misdemeanor, with a potential penalty of $5,000 and a year in jail. Read RCW 66.44.270.

In 2010, Washington enacted revisions to its outdoor advertising rules to reduce youth exposure to alcohol ads:

  1. Four Sign Limit: Limits to four the number of signs advertising alcohol brand names and manufacturers that are affixed or hanging in the window or on the outside of stores and other premises visible from the right of way.
    • The rule does not apply to the business trade name or neon or other signs inside the premises that are visible from the outside, but intended to reach inside patrons.
    • Signs that do not list manufacturer or brand are not included in the sign limit. For example, “happy hour well drinks $1.50.”
  2. 1,600 Square Inch Limit: Restricts the size of alcohol signs visible from the outside of retail licensed premises to 1,600 square inches (equivalent to 32” x 50”).
  3. 500’ Distance Limit: Specifies the distance from schools, places of worship, playgrounds or athletic fields where advertising is allowed by replacing the former term “close proximity” with the new “500 feet.”
    • Ads are allowed within 500’ if neither the administrative body nor local authority objects.
    • The 500’ limit applies to signs (billboards, etc.); it does not include licensed premises.
  4. Rules Apply to Civic Events (community fairs and festivals)

The rules apply to signs at civic events where alcohol is served, such as beer gardens, and also clarify state law regarding sponsorships at civic events. Alcohol promotional items may only be given to people who are 21 and older.

For more information, visit the full list of current Washington State laws concerning alcohol distribution and sales and underage drinking,