Alabama Alcohol Laws: A Temperance Tradition

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 Alcohol Laws

            Overview

I.   Minimum Alcohol Laws
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources
IV. Seek Geed 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 0ff-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, they must be supervised. The age of the supervisor is not stated.
There is no required age to sell wine or beer in a store for consumption off-site. But persons must be at lease 21 to sell spirits in such a venue. Again, a manager or supervisor of unspecified age must be present.alabama alcohol laws

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 0.7 ounce of pure alcohol. When it comes to alcohol content, they’re identical.

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with a 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. Alcohol Violations

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.

Alcoholic beverages may not be served after 2 a.m.

It’s a violation of Alabama alcohol laws to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. Retailers can be convicted if they do not recognize a false ID and sell alcohol as a result.

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

People under 21 are prohibited from buying alcohol. Or from trying to buy it. It’s a criminal act to use a false ID to buy alcohol. Or to try to buy it. The offender’s driver’s license can be suspended. 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 US 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 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of

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

However, police and judges have wide discretion. Therefore, drivers may be arrested and convicted of DUI with 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 specific judge hearing the case. 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 suspended must complete a substance abuse or DUI court referral program.

First DUI Offense
  • Driver’s license suspension for 90 days.
  • Imprisonment for up to one year.
  • Fine of $500 to $2,000.
  • Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.
Second DUI Offense
  • Driver’s license suspension for one year.
  • Imprisonment 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 Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.
Third DUI Offense within Five Years
  • Driver’s license suspension for three years.
  • Imprisonment for 60 days to one year.
  • Fine of $2,000 to $10,000.
  • Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.
Fourth or Later DUI Offenses
  • Driver’s license suspension for five years.
  • Imprisonment for One to ten years.
  • Fine of $4,000 to $10,000.
  • Charge of $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.
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 offense with a BAC of 0.15 or higher.
  • Committed a DUI with a passenger under age 14.
  • Has multiple DUI offenses.
  • Caused crash because of DUI.
Driver Rights

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

First Use of Constitutional Right
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days even if not arrested.alabama alcohol laws
  • Possible denial of any restricted license.
  • Judge may order installation of an IID in vehicle.
Second Use of Constitutional 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.
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.

alabama alcohol lawsField sobriety tests are highly subjective and notoriously unreliable. For example, about one-third of completely sober people fail to pass them. That is, about one of every three people with zero alcohol (BAC of 0.00%) don’t pass them.

Lawyers strongly urge drivers never to take a field sobriety test. They say to politely decline and to do so as often as necessary. Officers have clever ways of convincing drivers to do what lawyers tell them not to do.

For example many officers insist to drivers that the law requires it. But no law does. When officers pull drivers over for suspected DUI, they are conducting criminal investigations. It’s perfectly legal for an officer to mislead, be dishonest, and to lie to a suspect in a criminal investigation. If you are a suspect in a crime, the police is officer is never your friend or ally.

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 imprisonment of up to one year.
  • Operator’s certification suspension for 90 days.
Second Offense within five years
  • alabama alcohol lawsA fine of $1,100 to $5,100 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.
  • Judge must sentence offender to 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 imprisonment for 30 days to one year.
  • Judge must sentence offender to 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 involved.

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 imprisonment 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

Boat operators who use their Constitutional right to decline submitting to chemical testing are punished the same as vehicle drivers. 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.

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

III. Resources on Alabama Alcohol Laws

 

 

IV. Seek Good Advice

Alabama alcohol laws can change. They do in other states. So can their interpretations. Do not rely on this site. Or 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.

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