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
II. Violations of Alcohol Laws
IV. Get Good Advice
I. Minimum Ages
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 necessary 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.
The 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 0.6 ounce of pure alcohol. So they’re all the same in terms of alcohol.
II. More Arkansas Alcohol Laws
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. The state punishes a second offense with prison for at least one year. It 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. The state punishes a second offense with one to five years in prison 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.
Anyone under age 21, including adults, conviction of possessing alcohol results in a $100 to $500 fine. 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.
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 in suspension 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. Nevertheless, 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 very unreliable. Research shows that 30% of people with a BAC of 0.00% fail them. That is, about one of three completely sober people will fail the test!
Defense attorneys say never take it. Politely refuse. Police may promise, argue, threaten, or get angry. Again, politely refuse. And do so as long as necessary. Learn more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.
Arkansas 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 guilty of intoxication if they have a BAC of 0.08% or higher. If under 21, they are guilty at 0.02%. Boaters are also guilty of intoxication by alcohol and/or drugs if their abilities suffer substantial alteration. And if, as a result they become a danger.
A first BWI leads to imprisonment for up to one year and a fine up to $1,000. The state suspends the operator’s license is 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 state takes theoperator’s license away for one year.
Those convicted of BWI must also complete an approved alcohol education program or alcoholism treatment program. Furthermore, this is at the expense of the convicted.
The state punishes boaters to choose their Constitutional right to decline BAC testing. To do so it fines them up to $2,500. It also suspends their operator’s license up to six months.
III. Resources on Arkansas Alcohol Laws
- Arkansas State Code
- Legislative Information
- Supreme Court Decisions
- Court of Appeals Decisions
- Attorney General Opinions
- Alcoholic Beverage Control
- Arkansas Bar Association
Dry Counties in Arkansas
- Hot Spring
- Little River
- Southern Logan
- Van Buren
A list of dry counties in the U.S. is at Dry Counties.
IV. Get Good Advice about Drinking Laws in Arkansas
Arkansas alcohol laws can be hard to understand. That means they’re easy to misunderstand. Lawyers spend years studying law. Never rely on this site. Nor any other site.
Get 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.