Alabama Alcohol Laws: A Temperance Tradition – So Learn the Laws Well!

Alabama alcohol laws express the beliefs of its residents. The state was a strong temperance supporter. Its laws reflect that antipathy toward drinking.

I. Minimum Age Alcohol Laws

            Overview

I.   Minimum Age Alcohol               Laws
II.  More Alabama Alcohol               Laws
III. Resources
IV.  Get Good Advice

Many young people would like to get part-time jobs. Some of the best are in the hospitality. These jobs usually involve alcohol.

Youths need to know the minimum ages for these jobs. How old must they be to sell alcohol for off-site drinking? To serve alcohol in a restaurant? For tending bar?

Alabama alcohol laws require adults to be at least 19 to be alcohol servers. They must be at least 21 to be bartenders. In both cases, there must be superviser. The law doesn’t state an age for the supervisor.

There is no required age to sell wine or beer in a store for consumption off-site. But persons must be at least 21 to sell spirits in such a venue. Again, a manager or supervisor of unspecified age must be present.

Standard Drinks

This distinction appears to be based on a myth. It’s that spirits are more “alcoholic” than others. But standard servings of beer, wine and spirits all have the same amount of alcohol. Each has 0.6 ounce of pure alcohol. When it comes to alcohol content, they’re identical.

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.02%.

It is against Alabama’s alcohol laws for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. That includes adults aged 18, 19, and 20. And it includes active members of the U.S. military.

II. More Alabama Alcohol Laws

Selling Alcohol

Alabama has a government monopoly on the sale of wine with an alcohol content of 14% or higher. It also has a monopoly on the sale of all distilled spirits. That’s tequila, scotch, rum, vodka, bourbon, gin, etc. The state prohibits any competition in the sale of these products

Grocery and convenience stores may sell wine with under 14% alcohol. They may also sell beer under 6% alcohol.

It violates the law to serve alcoholic beverages after 2 a.m.

It’s a violation of Alabama alcohol laws to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. The state can convict retailers if they don’t recognize a false ID and sell alcohol as a result.

Dry Counties and Towns

Alabama has a number of dry counties and other areas. Here’s a wet/dry map of Alabama.

Alabama alcohol laws

 

Here’s a list of the wet municipalities in Alabama.

Albertville
Aliceville
Arab
Ashland
Athens
Blountsville
Boaz
BrentBridgeport
Carbon Hill
Cedar Bluffill
Centre
Centreville
Chatom
Cleveland
Collinsville
Cordova
Cullman
Dora
Elbe
Enterprise
Fayette
Florence
Ft. Payne
Frisco City
Geneva
Good Hope
GroveHill
Guin
Guntersville
Haleyville (Marion County)
Haleyville (Winston County)
Hamilton
Hartselle
Hollywood
Jackson
Jasper
Monroeville
Moulton
New Brockton
Oneida
Priceville
Reform
Rogersville
St Florian
Samson
Scottsboro
Slocomb
Stevenson
Sulligent
Thomasville
Town Creek
Winfield

Buying Alcohol

It’s illegal for people under 21 to buy alcohol. Or to try buying it. It’s a criminal act to use a false ID to buy alcohol. Or to try to buy it. The state can suspend the offender’s driver’s license. On the other hand, youth may buy alcohol to help law enforcement entrap clerks.

alabama alcohol lawsPeople under 21 may not consume any alcohol. That means any amount. Any time. For any reason. Period. There are no exceptions.

Thus, those under 21 may not take communion wine. Or wine with Seder. Parents may not serve their own children in their own homes. The U.S. Constitutional right of religious freedom? It doesn’t seem to exist for those under 21 in Alabama.

Driving and Alcohol

It’s a violation of Alabama alcohol laws to drive under the (DUI) influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI occurs if a driver has a BAC of

0.08%
0.04% if a commercial driver
0.02% if under age 21.

However, police have wide discretion. Therefore, they may arrest drivers for DUI who have BACs below these limits

alabama alcohol lawsThe exact penalties for DUI vary because of many factors. They include age, BAC level, type of driver’s license, defendants demeanor, and the judge. Nevertheless, this is the general pattern.

Driver’s license suspensions are automatic upon arrest. They occur even if the driver is innocent. All drivers whose licenses are under suspension must complete a substance abuse or DUI court referral program.

First DUI Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for 90 days.
  • Jail for up to one year.
  • Fine of $500 to $2,000.
  • Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund (IDTF).

Second DUI Offense

  • Driver’s license suspension for one year.
  • Jail for two days to one year (must serve minimum) or community service for at least 20 days.
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000
  • Charge of $100 for the IDTF.

Third DUI Offense within Five Years

  • Driver’s license suspension for three years.
  • Jail for 60 days to one year.
  • Fine of $2,000 to $10,000.
  • Charge of $100 for the IDTF.

Fourth or Later DUI Offenses

  • Driver’s license suspension for five years.
  • Prison for One to ten years.
  • Fine of $4,000 to $10,000.
  • Charge of $100 for the IDTF.

Ignition Interlock Devices

alabama alcohol laws
Ignition Interlock Device

An Ignition interlock device (IID) prevents a vehicle from starting if alcohol is on the breath of the driver. When a judge orders an IID, the offender must pay all installation, maintenance, and monitoring costs. Judges may order an IID if any one of the following applies to the offender.

  • Has a first DUI with a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
  • Had a DUI with a passenger under age 14.
  • Has many DUIs.
  • Caused crash because of DUI.

Driver Rights

All drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to refuse chemical testing. However, the state punishes drivers who use their right. The punishments may include

First Use of Right

  • Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days even if not arrested.
  • Possible denial of any restricted license.
  • Judge may order an IID.

Second Use of Right

  • Suspension of driver’s license for one year even if not arrested.
  • Possible denial of any restricted license.
  • Judge may order an IID.

Field Sobriety Tests

Alabama alcohol laws punish drivers who use their Constitutional right to decline submitting to chemical testing. However, there is no legal punishment for not taking a field sobriety test.

Field sobriety tests are very unreliable. For example, 30% of completely sober people fail to pass them. That is, about one of every three people with zero alcohol (BAC of 0.00%) fail them.

Police have many ways of convincing drivers to take them. For example many insist that the law requires it. But no law in the U.S. does. When police pull drivers over for suspected DUI, they are conducting criminal investigations. It’s perfectly legal for them to lie. If you are a suspect in a crime, the officer is never your friend or ally.

Lawyers strongly urge drivers to never, ever take a field sobriety test. They say to politely decline.  And to do so as often as necessary.

Discover much more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.

Boating and Alcohol

alabama alcohol lawsAlabama alcohol laws prohibit boating under the influence (BUI). Specifically, operating any vessel while intoxicated from alcohol. Or from any combination alcohol and controlled substances, or drugs.

This prohibition includes operating boats, personal watercraft, water skis, sailboards, wakeboard, or similar devices.

Intoxication exists if any of the following applies to the operator.

  • Has a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
  • Is under the influence of any combination of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs.
  • Suffers impairment of mental or physical faculties from any substance.

Penalties for BUI depend on BAC level, prior offenses, offender demeanor, the specific judge, and other factors. However, the following is a general guideline.

First Offense

  • A fine of $600-$2,100 and/or jail of up to one year.
  • Operator’s certification suspension for 90 days.

Second Offense within five years

  • A fine of $1,100 to $5,100 and/or jail for up to one year.
  • At least five days in jail or at least 30 days of community service.
  • Operator’s certification suspension for one year.

Third Offense in Lifetime

  • A fine of $2,100-$10,100 and/or jail for 30 days to one year.
  • At least five days in jail or at least 30 days of community service.
  • Operator’s certification suspension for three years.

Judge must impose at least double the usual penalties for any BUI if the BAC was  0.15% or higher. Or if anyone under age 14 was in the vehicle.

More Serious BUI Offenses

alabama alcohol lawsA BUI offender who causes serious physical injury is guilty of assault in the first degree. The penalty is generally prison for two to 20 years. And the fine can be up to $30,000.

A BUI offender who causes death of can is guilty of criminally negligent homicide. The penalty is generally one year and one day to ten years in prison. The fine can be up to $15,000. Surprisingly, the penalties for causing death are less than for causing injuries.

Operator Rights

The state state punishes boat operators who use their Constitutional right to decline submitting to chemical testing. To do so, it punishes the same as vehicle drivers. That is, the punishments apply to their vehicles.

First Use of  Right

  • Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days even if not arrested.
  • Possible denial of any restricted license.
  • Judge may order installation of an IID in vehicle.

Second Use of  Right

  • Suspension of driver’s license for one year even if not arrested.
  • Possible denial of any restricted license.
  • Judge may order installation of an IID in vehicle.

So it’s clearly a good idea not to drink and operate a boat or other water device.

III. Resources on Alabama Alcohol Laws

IV. Get Good Advice

Alabama alcohol laws can change. They do in other states. So can their interpretations. Do not rely on this site. Nor on any other site.

Be aware. Neighbors may give advice. Friends may also do so. Even colleagues. And, of course family members may chime in. Smile and thank them. Then ignore their advice. It’s worth what you paid. That is, nothing. And worse, it may be misleading.

Get information and advice about Alabama alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer holding a license in the state.