State Laws

Alcohol Laws By State




Alcohol laws are laws in relation to the manufacture, use, influence and sale of ethanol (ethyl alcohol, EtOH) or alcoholic beverages that contains ethanol. These laws mandate the legal drinking age, amount, the use of vehicles and machinery, and where alcohol is allowed to be sold and consumed.  In the last 50 years with the increase of the use automobile and major highways drunk driving laws have been put into place to protect individuals and the general public.

All fifty states have drunk driving laws which limit how much alcohol a person can consume before driving a car on a road. The permitted blood alcohol content threshold ranges from 0.0% to 0.08%.

Punishments for violation include fines, temporary or permanent loss of driver’s license, and imprisonment. Some jurisdictions have similar prohibitions for drunk sailing, drunk bicycling, and even drunk rollerblading. In many places in the United States, it is also illegal to have an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

  • Dram Shop
  • Mandatory Server Training
  • Other Laws
Dram shop or dramshop is a legal term in the United States referring to a bar, tavern or the like where alcoholic beverages are sold. Traditionally, it referred to a shop where spirits were sold by the dram, a small unit of liquid.

Dram shop liability refers to the body of law governing the liability of taverns, liquor stores and other commercial establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. Generally, dram shop laws establish the liability of establishments arising out of the sale of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who subsequently cause death or injury to third parties (those not having a relationship to the bar) as a result of alcohol-related car crashes and other accidents.

Dram Shop Laws

Forty-three of the United States have some form of Dram Shop Liability Laws. Those that do not have Dram Shop Laws are:

  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Nevada
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland

Click on the image below to view the map of the states that do have Dram Shop Laws.

Alcohol server training is a form of occupational education typically provided to servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol to prevent intoxication, drunk driving andunderage drinking. This training is sometimes regulated and mandated by state and local laws predominantly in North America.

Establishments that train their employees benefit by reducing risk and creating a safer, more responsible work environment. The training can be used to mitigate liability during a lawsuit involving intoxication by providing evidence of intent on the part of the establishment that serves and sells alcoholic beverages – a “reasonable efforts defense.” In addition, this training can lower liquor liability insurance premiums, offer compliance with local laws and regulations, reduce penalties for alcohol violations, and prevent alcohol-related crimes such as property damage and assault.

Mandatory Server Training Laws 

Eighteen states have Mandatory Server Training Laws. Click on the image below to view the map of the states that have Mandatory Server Training Laws.

Image Credit: Anna Conti. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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