Connecticut Alcohol Laws: Small State, Big Surprise

This page will help you understand Connecticut alcohol laws and avoid expensive fines or even jail. Not to mention time and embarrassment.

Connecticut alcohol laws apply to residents and visitors alike. The state is close to many others. Those states have some alcohol laws that differ. So visitors should keep that in mind.


           Overview

I.   Alcohol Minimum Ages
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources
IV.  Get Legal Advice

Alcohol laws even differ within a state. So does the vigor of enforcement. Accidentally breaking a law can is not a legal defense.

I. Alcohol Minimum Ages

Often young people seek part-time jobs. Hospitality offers many. They often involve alcohol. Youths need to know the ages needed for them. For example, how old must one be to serve alcohol in a restaurant? To tend bar? Or to sell alcohol for consumption off-site? They need to know. So we tell them.

Connecticut alcohol laws permit adults to serve alcohol in restaurants. Of course, adults are those 18 or older. They may tend bar. They may also sell alcohol for off-site drinking. There are no differences for beer, wine, or liquor (distilled spirits).

Connecticut has no law against drinking alcohol by anyone of any age under 21. A parent or guardian must provide the alcohol to them. However, they may not buy alcohol.

Many parents drink with their children to demystefy alcohol and promote moderation. They think it’s better for young people to learn to drink in the parents’ house than in a fraternity house.

It is a crime to use a false ID to buy alcohol. Doing so can lead to driver’s license suspension. It is also a crime to make, transfer, lend, or sell a false ID. Retailers may seize IDs that appear to be false.

It is illegal for those under 21 to drive with a BAC over 0.02.

II. More Connecticut Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

In Connecticut,  grocery and convenience stores sell beer. Package stores sell wine and spirits for drinking elsewhere. Package stores may sell from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. They may sell from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Restaurants and bars serve alcohol from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Bars must close by 2 p.m.

Restaurants and bars may sell sealed containers of draught beer (growlers) for off-premise drinking. However, they may not sell over four liters a day to any individual.

The township of Bridgewater is dry. Thus, it is illegal to sell beer, wine or spirits there.

It’s illegal to sell an alcoholic beverage to anyone under the age of 21. The penalty is is a fine of up to $1500 and/or jail for up to 18 months.

The sale of powdered alcohol, or palcohol, is also illegal. The state penalizes selling it with a $250 fine.

People can hold retailers liable if they sell to a visibly intoxicated person who then causes a driving crash. Liability goes up to $250,000. However, if the customer was under 21, there is no limit to the liability.

B. Buying Alcohol

connecticut alcohol lawsIt’s illegal under Connecticut alcohol laws for anyone under 21 to buy alcohol. The fine for doing so is at last $200. However, it could be up to $500.

If a person makes a false statement in trying to buy alcohol, it’s a simple violation. On the other hand, using a fake ID to do so is a crime. The penalty for this is jail for up to 30 days. And the fine is at least $200. But it could be up to $500.

The possession of alcohol by anyone under 21 is unlawful. The state punishes it with a fine of at least $200. However, it could be as high as $500. Those convicted of illegal purchase or possession of alcohol face another penalty. The state may suspend their driving license. If they don’t yet have a license, the state may delay issuing one to them.

Buying or possessing powdered alcohol (palcohol) is illegal. The fine for doing so is $100.

Connecticut has a minimum price law for wine and spirits. This makes the state uncompetitive with its neighbors. Therefore, many residents travel across the state line to save money.

C. Driving and Alcohol

connecticut alcohol lawsUnder Connecticut alcohol laws, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a criminal offense.  Prosecution doesn’t require direct evidence of a person’s BAC. Only whether a person’s ability to drive suffered from impairment.

Connecticut alcohol laws prohibit driving with ability impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.

This is usually determined by measuring (actually estimating) blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A reading of 0.08% or higher is illegal. For those under age 21, the prohibition is 0.02% or higher.

Ignition Interlock Device

An ignition interlock device (IID) prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has a BAC of 0.025% or higher. The state requires an IID before restoring the license. After restoration, the IID must remain for at least the length of time imposed. In addition, the driver must pay all costs for installation, maintenance, and monitoring. And they are high.

    First Conviction

  • Jail for two days to six months.
  • Fines of at least $500. Yet it could be as high as $1,000.
  • License suspension for one year.
  • IID for six months. (One year for drivers under 21.) Furthermore, the offender must pay the costs,   

   Second Conviction within Ten Years

  • Jail for 120 days to two years.
  • Fines of at least $1,000. But it could be up to $4,000.
  • License suspension for one year.
  • IID for one year. (Two years for drivers under 21.).

   Third Conviction within Ten Years

  • Prison for one to three years.
  • Fines of at least $2,000. However, it might be up to $8,000.
  • License revoked for life.

Driver Rights

All drivers enjoy a U.S. Constitutional right to decline submitting to a chemical BAC test. However, the state punishes those who use their right. The first time drivers use their right, it suspends their license for six months. The second occasion, it’s suspension for one year. A third use of their right triggers a suspension for three years.

connecticut alcohol lawsHowever, the state does not impose a penalty for not submitting to a field sobriety test. These are highly subjective and very inaccurate. In fact, about one-third of completely sober people fail field sobriety tests. That is, about one of every three people with a zero BAC (0.00%) fail them.

For this reason, lawyers strongly advise drivers never take them. They say to politely refuse. And to do so as many times as necessary.

Police have convincing ways to pressure drivers into submitting. They often falsely insist that the law requires it. Actually, no law requires it. They may say that it can prove the driver’s innocence. But police don’t think that passing the test proves sobriety. So passing doesn’t help the driver.

While investigating, police can legally lie. So don’t be a sucker!

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

D. Boating and Alcohol

connecticut alcohol lawsConnecticut alcohol laws prohibit boating under the influence (BUI). That is, operating a boat or personal watercraft under the influence of alcohol and/or any drug. The prohibition includes riding water skis, wakeboard, or similar devices.

Boaters age 21 or older are under the influence if they have a BAC of 0.08% or higher. For boaters under 21, it’s 0.02% or above.

   Penalties for a first conviction may be these.

    • Required jail for 48 hours to six months.
    • A fine of at least $500. However, it could be as high as $1,000.
    • Boating license suspension for one year.
    • Probation with community service of 100 hours.

   Penalties for 2nd conviction in 10 years may be these.

    • Required jail for 120 days to two years.
    • A fine of at least $1,000. But it could be as high as $4,000.
    • Boating license suspension for three years.
    • Probation with community service of 100 hours.

   Penalties 3rd+ or conviction in ten years may be.

    • Required prison for one to three years.
    • A fine of at least $2,000. On the other hand, it could be as high as $8,000.
    • Boating license suspension for life.
    • Probation with community service of 100 hours.

The penalties for using the right not to submit to a BAC breath test are more severe than failing it.

III. Resources on Connecticut Alcohol Laws

IV. Get Good Advice about Drinking Laws in Connecticut

Connecticut alcohol laws can be hard to understand. The same is true elsewhere. Laws can change. Courts change their interpretation. They can conflict. It takes legal training to understand them. And law isn’t a DIY project.

So never rely on this site. Nor on any other site. And never rely on family or friends. Nor on neighbors or co-workers. Their advice and beliefs are worth what they cost. That is, not much.

Get advice about Connecticut alcohol laws from an expert. That is a lawyer holding a license in the the state.

It’s also a good idea to select a lawyer who practices in the locality of concern.