Alcohol laws in the United States vary among states. However, most, if not all, states agree on certain regulations that both providers and consumers of alcohol should follow. In this guide, you will learn about some of the common alcohol laws in the United States:
All states prohibit the selling of alcohol and liquor products to anyone under 21 years old. Stores may require a valid ID to verify a customer’s age. The acceptable forms of ID for alcohol include a driver’s license, a state ID card, a military ID, and a valid U.S. passport. Those who sell or provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 will be charged with misdemeanor, although some states may consider it a felony depending on the circumstances of the case.
In some states, providing alcohol to a minor is acceptable as long as there is consent from a legal-aged family member, but there are no states allowing the provision of alcohol to a minor with the consent of a non-family member. However, the consumption of alcohol must only be in private locations such as a residence or home.
If, during a party, a minor or minors consume alcohol, many states put the responsibility on the social host even if he or she wasn’t responsible in providing the alcohol to the underage drinkers. In other words, the social host will face any misdemeanor or felony charges that may be filed.
Some states still follow the Blue laws, which are laws that are based on religious standards. These laws include the prohibition or limitation of selling alcohol and liquor products on Sundays. (Note, however, that some states only prohibit the sale of alcohol and other liquor products within a given time period, e.g. from midnight to 11 AM.) States that still enact the Blue laws include but are not limited to Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota and Oklahoma.
Those who wish to sell alcohol and other liquor products must obtain a liquor license. The process of applying for a liquor license varies depending on the state or locality. There are also different classes of licenses depending on where you intend to sell these products. The most common classes of licenses in restaurants include the restaurant liquor license (or simply liquor license, for restaurants who also offer alcoholic beverages in their menu), the beer and wine liquor license (which excludes strong alcohols or spirits), and the tavern liquor license (for restaurants whose 50% of sales come from liquor).
Like most alcohol laws, the laws regarding public intoxication also vary by state. States that prohibit public intoxication include but are not limited to Iowa, Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Georgia and California. The graveness of the punishment also varies by state.
Because each state and locality has their own laws and regulations regarding alcohol, you should do a more specific research before providing or consuming alcohol. If you break the law, you may be charged with a fine, face jail time, or both.