Arkansas Alcohol Laws: Do Any Surprise You?

Arkansas alcohol laws apply both to residents and visitors. Remember that its laws may differ from those in another state. Laws vary from state to state. They also vary within the same state.

I. Minimum Ages

I.   Minimum Ages
II.  Alcohol Penalties
III. Resources
IV.  Seek Good Advice

Young persons often want to get jobs. Many are in  the hospitality. Some of the best involve selling alcohol. What’s the minimum age to serve alcohol in a restaurant? How old must one be to tend bar? What is the age to sell alcohol for drinking elsewhere?

Arkansas alcohol laws require people to be 19 or older to serve alcohol in a venue to drink there. The minimum age is 21 to tend bar. But it’s not so simple for selling alcohol for off-site drinking. One must only be an adult 18 or older to sell beer or wine for consumption elsewhere. Parental consent is required to work with alcohol under the age of 21.

To sell spirits in a store for consumption elsewhere, one must be at least 21. Requiring age 18 for selling beer or wine, but age 21 for selling spirits comes from a myth.


arkansas alcohol lawsThe myth is that spirits are more alcoholic than beer or wine. But standard servings of beer, wine, and spirits all have the same amount of alcohol. It’s 0.7 ounce of pure alcohol. So they’re all the same in terms of alcohol.

II. Alcohol Penalties

Selling Alcohol

Unknowingly selling alcohol to a person, even to an adult, under 21 is illegal. The penalty for a first offense is a fine of $200 to $500. A second offense is punished with a mandatory jail term of at least one year. The crime also carries a fine of $500 to $1,000.

The penalty for knowingly selling alcohol to a person under 21 is 10 days in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense is penalized with one to five years in jail and a $500 fine.

Arkansas has 75 counties and about half are dry. That is, they prohibit the sale of alcohol. (See list below.) However, private clubs can serve alcohol in dry counties.

Arkansas’ alcohol licensing defines when a bar or restaurant can serve alcohol. A Class A license permits sales from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. A Class B license allows sales from 10 a.m. until 5 a.m. A Restaurant License permits alcohol sales until 1 a.m. It’s illegal to sell alcohol anywhere in the state on Christmas Day.

Purchasing Alcohol

Anyone under age 21, including adults, convicted of possessing alcohol is fined $100 to $500. In addition, the person has to write a theme or essay on alcohol.

Arkansas alcohol laws permit family members to provide alcohol to those of any age under 21. “Family” might include a spouse of any age.

The use of a false ID to buy alcohol is a criminal act. It may lead to drivers license suspension. It is also a criminal act to make, lend, transfer, or sell any false ID. Retailers have the right to detain those suspected of using a fake ID to buy alcohol.

Arkansas permits patrons to remove partially consumed bottles of wine from restaurants. But they can’t drink any of it in the car. That’s because the state prohibits drinking by anyone in a motor vehicle or on a public highway. However, it is legal to possess an open alcohol container in the vehicle. That is, it isn’t necessary to carry it in the trunk.


arkansas alcohol lawsThe maximum legal BAC is 0.08. However, for drivers under the age of 21 it’s 0.02.

The penalty for a first conviction for DUI is license suspension for 120 days. For a second conviction it’s two years. For any additional convictions, the penalties become more serious.

The punishment for driving while license is suspended is a 10 day jail sentence. In addition, the fines are up to $1,000.

All drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to decline BAC tests. However, Arkansas punishes those who do so. Using the right results in immediate driving license suspension for up to one year.

However, this does not apply to field sobriety tests. No state requires suspected drivers to take them. They are highly subjective and very unreliable. Research shows that over 30% of people with a BAC of 0.00 fail them.

Defense attorneys say never take them. Politely, but consistently refuse. Officers may promise, argue, threaten, or get angry. Again, politely, but consistently refuse. Learn more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.


arkansas alcohol lawsArkansas alcohol laws prohibits anyone from boating while intoxicated (BWI). This includes operating any jet ski, riding water skis, or similar devices. Intoxication may be from alcohol, drugs, or both.

Boaters age 21 or older are intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. If under 21, they are intoxicated at 0.02. Boaters are also intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs if their abilities are substantially altered and they become a danger.


A first BWI leads to imprisonment for up to one year and a fine up to $1,000. The operator’s license is suspended for 90 days.

A second conviction within three years leads to imprisonment for up to one year and a fine up to $2,500. This time the operator’s license is taken away for one year.

arkansas alcohol lawsIf a third conviction within three years occurs, imprisonment is for 60 days to one year. The maximum fine is $5,000 and the license is suspend for three years.

Those convicted of BWI must also complete an approved alcohol education program or alcoholism treatment program. This is at the expense of the convicted.

The state punishes boaters to choose their Constitutional right to decline BAC testing. They’re fined up to $2,500 and their operator’s license is suspended up to six months.

III. Resources on Arkansas Alcohol Laws

Arkansas alcohol lawsArkansas State Code
Legislative Information
Supreme Court Decisions
Court of Appeals Decisions
Attorney General Opinions
Alcoholic Beverage Control
Arkansas Bar Association

Dry Counties in Arkansas

arkansas alcohol lawsAshley
• Bradley
• Clay
• Cleburne
• Craighead
• Columbia
• Crawford
• Faulkner
• Fulton
• Grant
• Hempstead
• Hot Spring
• Howard
• Independence
• Izard
• Johnson
• Lafayette
• Lawrence
• Lincoln
• Little River
• Southern Logan
• Lonoke
• Madison
• Montgomery
• Newton
• Perry
• Pike
• Polk
• Pope
• Randolph
• Saline
• Scott
• Searcy
• Southern
• Sebastian
• Sevier
• Stone
• Van Buren
• White
• Yell

A list of dry counties in the U.S. is at Dry Counties.

IV. Get Good Advice about Arkansas Alcohol Laws

Arkansas alcohol laws can be hard to understand. That means they’re easy to misunderstand. Lawyers spend years studying law. Never rely on this or any other site.

arkansas alcohol lawsGet information and advice about Arkansas alcohol laws from a lawyer who holds a license in the state. Nothing else is wise. In addition, alcohol attitudes and enforcement practices vary by locale. Therefore, it’s also a good idea to select a lawyer very familiar with the locale in question.