Hawaii Alcohol Laws: Do You Know Hawaiian Alcohol Laws?

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

Hawaii alcohol laws apply to the state’s residents. They also apply to the state’s millions of visitors. The state’s alcohol laws vary from some other states. So it’s very important to know Hawaiian alcohol laws. Doing so can save a lot of grief.

I.   Minimum Age Laws
II.  Other Alcohol Laws
III. Resources
IV. Legal Advice

I. Minimum Age Requirements

Many young people want part-time jobs. Hospitality offers many. Some involve alcohol. What’s the minimum age to serve alcohol in restaurants? To tend bar? And to sell alcohol for drinking elsewhere? Young people have questions. So we give them the facts.

Hawaii alcohol laws require those holding these jobs to be adults. That is, the age is 18 or older. In all cases a manager must be present. But non-adults may serve alcohol after an approved job training program.

Those of any age under 21 may drink. A parent or guardian must serve the alcohol in private locations. As a result, many parents serve their offspring alcohol, especially at dinner. They think it’s better to learn how to drink in the parents’ house than in a frat house. There’s good evidence this approach is effective.

A car or truck on a highway is not a private location.

Patrons 21 or older may remove partially consumed bottles of wine, beer, or distilled spirits (liquor) from restaurants. But Hawaii prohibits drinking or having open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. It must be in the trunk.

Under Hawaii alcohol laws it is illegal for those under 21 to buy alcohol. But they may buy it to help police entrap clerks or servers.

Using a false ID to buy alcohol is a crime. The penalty may include driver’s license suspension.

II. Other Hawaii Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

Retail stores, including grocery and convenience stores, may sell beer, wine and spirits. They may usually sell until 11 p.m.

Restaurants and bars must stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. But those holding cabaret licenses may serve until 4 a.m.

On the other hand, Maui County permits 24 hour sale of alcohol.

B. Buying Alcohol

The penalty for illegal purchase, possession or drinking alcohol is license suspension, revocation, or denial. It applies to adults age 18, 19, and 20. The penalty is for a period of at least 180 days. The law does not specify any maximum number of days. For those under age 18, the penalty can be the same. But its application is up to the judge.

The state has abolished the law against ordering more than one drink at a time. Thus, it is now legal.

It is illegal for anyone to drink alcohol on beaches.

Hawaii’s social host liability law does not apply to the host’s own family. But it applies to guests of all ages. To be guilty, the host must act with intentional disregard for the probable results of the party.

C. Driving and Alcohol

Under Hawaii alcohol laws, it’s illegal to drive under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. That makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.

For those under 21, including adults, it’s 0.02% or higher. But the penalties are the same. Also, those with a BAC of 0.15% or higher face stiffer more penalties.

That is, penalties depend on the facts and the judge.

     First DUI

    • A fine of $150 to $1,000.
    • $50 in surcharges.
    • Completion of an alcohol or drug abuse program. Of course, the offender pays for it.
    • License revocation for one year.
    • Possible community service of up to 72 hours.

     Second DUI within Five Years

    • Fine of $500 to $1,500.
    • $50 in surcharges.
    • Jail for five to 30 days or community service of 240 hours.
    • License revocation for up to two years.

    Third DUI within Five Years of First Two

    • hawaii alcohol lawsFine of $500 to $2,500.
    • $50 in surcharges.
    • Jail for ten to 30 days.
    • License revocation for two years.

Driver Rights

All drivers have rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. One of these rights enables them to decline submitting to a alcohol breathnor drug test. But the state punishes those who use their right. To do so, suspends the driving license.

For the first use of the right, the suspension is for one year. If the driver uses the right another time within five years, the suspension is for 18 months. A third use within within five years triggers a two-year suspension. Any additional uses of the right within ten years bring suspensions of five to ten years.

Field Sobriety Tests

hawaii alcohol lawsBut there are no legal penalties for not taking a field sobriety test. These lack validity. For example, about one-third of completely sober people fail. That is, about one of every three people with zero BAC (0.00%) fail a field sobriety test. They fail in ideal indoor conditions.

If they were pulled over, they wouldn’t be in ideal indoor conditions. Of course, they would be legally drunk. Although they have a BAC of 0.00%.

So lawyers strongly urge drivers to politely refuse taking them. And to continue declining as often as needed. Officers learn ways to convince drivers to submit. Often they falsely say the law requires it. No, it doesn’t. In fact, no state requires it.

Sometimes they say drivers can prove their innocence by passing the test. But it is the state that must prove guilt. The driver doesn’t need to prove innocence.

While investigating, police can legally lie. So don’t fall for it.

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

D. Boating and Alcohol

hawaii alcohol lawsHawaii alcohol laws prohibit operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The prohibition also includes riding water skis, surfboards, aquaplanes, or similar devices.

Having a BAC of 0.08% or higher is being under the influence. For those under age 21, operating under the influence (OUI) is different. It’s having a BAC over 0.00%. Most other states set the limit at 0.02 rather than 0.00%.

There are several reasons for this. First, breath and urine BAC tests don’t actually measure BAC. They only estimate it. Another reason is that everyone produces alcohol in their bodies 24/7. A third reason is that many meds as well as some foods contain alcohol.

So setting the limit at 0.02% greatly reduces the chance of falsely convicting innocent people.


Law enforcement randomly boards vessels to give breath tests. They this without probable cause.

Complete prohibition of alcohol drinking or possession occurs three times a year. And it’s in specified areas. Those times are Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. The prohibition areas are Kaneohe Bay in Oahu and the Ahu O Laka Safety Zone.

To be sure, judges have wide discretion about penalties for OUI under Hawaiian alcohol laws. Any OUI conviction becomes part of the offender’s vehicular driving record.

III. Resources on Hawaii Alcohol Laws

Hawaii alcohol laws State Code.
Attorney General Opinions.
• Administrative Rules.
Court Appeals Opinions.
Legislative Information.

IV. Hawaii Alcohol Laws: Get Legal Advice

Some Hawaii alcohol laws can be hard to understand. As in other states. Laws can change. Their interpretation can change. They may conflict. Lawyers study it for years.

So never rely on this site. Nor any other site. And beware. Friends my give advice. Colleagues may give opinions. Neighbors may give ideas. Family may give theories. They want to help. They can’t. Smile and thank them. Then ignore what they say.

Get facts and advice about Hawaii alcohol laws from an expert. That is a lawyer who holds a license in the state.

Also, alcohol attitudes and practices vary greatly from county to county. Therefore, it’s wise to select a lawyer very familiar with the county in question.


Do you know a fact that should be added to Hawaii alcohol laws? If so, please contact hansondj [at sign] potsdam [dot] edu/. And thank you for your help!