Drinking Age in Costa Rica: Drinking Laws, Penalties and Culture

We have good news: Costa Rica´s legal drinking age is 18 years old. Costa Rica’s drinking laws and culture can be confusing, especially for first-time visitors. Worry not, thirsty adventurers!

Sun, Sand, and Sipping Responsibly: Legal Drinking Age in Costa Rica

The minimum legal drinking age in Costa Rica is 18 years old, as in many Latin American countries. This applies to both the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages. In addition, many stores are prohibited from selling alcoholic drinks before 11:00 am.

While sipping a cerveza on the beach sounds tempting, consuming alcohol in public places is not allowed; the police on the beach will hardly notice you, but if you are on the street with a beer in your hands and do not behave properly, you will get into trouble. You can stick to designated bars and restaurants to avoid any unwanted attention.

Beyond the Legal Age: Understanding Costa Rican Drinking Culture

Costa Ricans like socializing over a drink but prioritize responsible consumption. There are party areas to drink alcohol and dance all night, like La California in the capital, Tamarindo in Guanacaste Beach, and Jaco Beach. Still, most other places are where you will see a lot of drinking among friends and family.

Local brews are a must-try! Sample Imperial, a crisp lager, or Pilsen, a refreshing pilsner. Indulge in Guaro Cacique, made from sugar cane; this liquor is often enjoyed in cocktails to taste Costa Rica’s spirit.

Tipping is not customary in Costa Rica, but a small gratuity for good service is always appreciated. The Costa Rican service’s goal is for the tourists to have a pleasant experience so that they come back. They don’t push for a tip as they do in other countries in Latin America.

Driving under the influence of alcohol in Costa Rica: Drinking Laws

You can also drive at the age of 18 in Costa Rica if you have a driver’s license from your country, but do not do it if you have been drinking; if the police catch you, they will do a breathalyzer test, if you have a blood alcohol concentration higher than zero point seventy-five grams (0.75 g) per liter of blood or with an air alcohol concentration higher than zero point thirty-eight milligrams (0.38 mg) per liter, it will be considered reckless driving, according with our criminal law with the following penalties:

  1. Prison sentence of one to three years (usually, you will be taken to jail and free the following day).
  2. disqualification to drive all types of vehicles in Costa Rica, from two to four years.
  3. Hefty fine: Traffic ticket for an approximate amount of $700

The same penalties apply if you drive at a speed of more than 150 kilometers per hour on any road. It´s important to respect the speed limits and to pay attention to the authorities if you are stopped.

Essential Tips for Drinking in Costa Rica:

  • Always carry an accepted form of identification, even if you look older than 18. It is a good idea to carry your Passports or government-issued IDs to confirm your age.
  • Respect the age restriction. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bartender willing to serve minors or a store selling alcohol to minors.
  • Drink responsibly. Pace yourself, stay hydrated, and avoid overindulgence. Remember, you’re on vacation, not in a drinking competition.
  • Public drinking is a no-go. Enjoy your beverages in designated areas and avoid open containers in public spaces.
  • Embrace the local vibe, vibrant culture, and tropical climate. Savor the relaxed atmosphere, try local brews, appreciate the slower pace of Costa Rican drinking culture, and share the experience with locals and tourists.

So, raise a glass to responsible fun in Costa Rica! Buen provecho!

P.S. Enjoy your time in Costa Rica responsibly; explore beyond the beach! San Jose, the capital, offers a vibrant nightlife scene with trendy bars and craft breweries. Just remember to keep your wits about you and enjoy the night responsibly.

If you have any problems as a tourist and require legal representation, we will gladly help you.

We are the number one firm for legal representation of tourists and foreigners in Costa Rica.