Idaho Alcohol Laws: Do You Know Its Laws? Be Sure!

This page will help you understand Idaho alcohol laws and avoid expensive fines or even jail.

Idaho alcohol laws apply to the state’s residents. But they also apply to visitors. The state’s alcohol laws may differ from those in another state. It’s best to know them. It makes it easier not to break them. That can be expensive. And also embarrassing.

When Idaho became a state in 1890, the temperance movement was very strong. So the state’s constitution reflects this fact.

“The first concern of all good government is the virtue and sobriety of the people. This legislature should further all wise and well directed efforts for the promotion of temperance and morality.” Art. III, ss24.

Idaho alcohol laws tend to be consist with that view. For example, Idaho drinking laws have long banned serving alcohol during nude or sexually explicit live performances. And in 2016, the state expanded the prohibition. It now includes “films, still pictures, electronic reproductions or other visual reproductions that violate state indecency and obscenity laws.”

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

I. Minimum Age Laws

Young people often want part-time jobs. Hospitality offers many. Some involve alcohol. Youths want to know the ages necessary to hold them. What’s the minimum age to serve alcohol? What about to tend bar? For selling alcohol for off-site drinking?

Idaho alcohol laws permit adults age 19 or older to hold those jobs. They also may serve alcohol in venues for on-site consumption. Or tend bar. And they may sell alcohol for off-site drinking.

Singers and musicians at least 18 years old may be in bars only during the course of their work.

Those of any age under 21 may drink beer or wine in a private residence. A parent or guardian must be present. The residence need not be that of the parent or guardian.

Buying alcohol by those under 21 is illegal. The use of a false ID is a crime. It may lead to driver’s license suspension. It is also a crime to make, transfer, lend or sell a fake ID.

Retailers may not seize false IDs. They must refuse service and contact police.

Those under 21 may not drive with a BAC over 0.02.

II. Other Idaho Alcohol Laws

Selling Alcohol

Anyone who sells alcohol to a person under 21 receives a fine of $500 to $1,000. The penalty includes jail for up to one year. A second conviction during the person’s life triggers a fine of $1,000 to $2,000. There is also jail of up to one year.

A conviction for unlawfully dealing with a minor can hurt a person’s chance of entering certain careers. For example, being a teacher, lawyer, law enforcement officer, social worker, and so on.

Retailers may not sell alcohol on Sunday, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Localities may permit liquor sales on Sunday, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. But they may not permit it on Christmas. On the other hand, Idaho drinking laws permit the sale of alcohol on election days.

Note that Franklin and Madison counties prohibit the sale of alcohol by the drink. This is by local option.

Buying Alcohol

idaho alcohol lawsIt’s a violation of Idaho alcohol laws for anyone under age 21 to buy alcohol. Or attempt to buy it.

The penalty for a first offense is a $1,000 fine and one-year license suspension. For a second offense, it’s 30 days in jail, and/or $2,000 fine. The license suspension increases to two years. Another conviction carries 60 days in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. The license suspension is for two years. The court may also require the perpetrator to have an alcohol assessment and undergo alcohol abuse treatment.

It’s illegal for consumers to bring their own alcohol into a alcohol licensed business such as a restaurant.

Customers in an alcohol licensed business must produce a valid ID if police requests it.

It’s illegal for anyone to possess alcohol on public school property. The maximum penalty is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

The state considers “possession” to include the alcohol in a person’s stomach. It doesn’t matter where the person drank it. Therefore, parents who had alcohol with their dinner and then attend a school event are in violation of this law.

Open alcohol containers are illegal on any street, parking lot,  playground. Also swimming pool, restroom, or within 250 feet of the Boise River.

Driving and Alcohol

It’s illegal for anyone in a motor vehicle to drink or to have an open alcohol container. One exception is for passengers in vehicles transporting them for pay. Another is in the living quarters of an RV.

The penalty for a driver violating this law is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. For a passenger, it’s a fine of up to $100.

It’s illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. The limit is 0.02 for adults and others under age 21.

The penalty for a first conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) has three parts. One is jail for up to six months. Another is license revocation for three to six months. While the third is a fine of up to $1,000.

A second conviction within ten years results in jail for up to one year. There is a required license suspension of one year after release. The fine is up to $2,000. In addition, the driver must pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).

That system prevents the vehicle from starting. That’s if there is any alcohol on the breath of the driver. The guilty must pay the expenses of installing and monitoring the IID.

Another conviction within ten years is a felony. It leads to more serious punishment. Prison is for up to five years. Also, license suspension is up to five years after release. The fine is up to $5,000 and the perpetrator must install an IID.

Enhanced Penalties

There are more severe penalties for driving with a BAC of 0.20 or higher.

For a first offense, there are three penalties. One is jail for up to one year. Another is a maximum fine of $2,000. The third is a required license suspension after release from jail.

A second conviction within five years is a felony. It carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. The state also suspends the license for up to five years after release. The fine is a maximum of $5,000. In addition, the state requires an IID on the felon’s vehicle.

A DUI leading to serious injury to another person leads to stronger punishments.

Driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle is illegal. It carries a penalty of six months jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Also, if the child suffers bodily injury or death the felony penalty is ten years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Driver Rights

Idaho alcohol laws require drivers to submit to alcohol testing. It’s everyone’s Constitutional right to refuse to do so. But the state punishes those who use their right. Declining to submit to a BAC chemical test results in confiscation of the driver’s license for one year. There’s also a $250 fine.

idaho alcohol lawsBut there are no punishments for refusing to take a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are not reliable. For example, 30% of completely sober people fail them.  So about one of three people with zero BAC (0.00%) fail. And that’s under ideal indoor conditions!

Police want people to take them. So they often falsely say the law requires it. But that’s not true. Or they say taking it will prove you’re innocent. Of course you don’t have to prove you’re innocent. Instead, the state has to prove you’re guilty! So there’s never a good reason to take the test.

Lawyers strongly recommend not taking them. They say to decline politely. And to do so as often as needed. Learn more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say Lawyers.

Boating and Alcohol

idaho alcohol lawsIt’s illegal to operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol. For those age 21 or older, that’s a BAC of 0.08% or higher. And for those under 21, it’s 0.02% or higher.

The penalty for operating under the influence is three-part. One is a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or six months in jail. Another is boating license suspension for up to two years. The third is the successful completion of a safe boating course. Of course, offenders must pay for the course.

Operating a vessel under the influence that causes great bodily harm to another is a crime. The state sentences offenders to prison for up to five years. It fines them up to $5,000. After their release from prison, it suspends their boating license for one to two years.

Vessel operators must submit to BAC tests when requested by police. And those who exercise their right to decline receive a fine of $200.

III. Resources on Idaho Alcohol Laws

IV. Get Good Advice

Idaho alcohol laws can be hard to understand. The same is true in other states. Laws can change. Their interpretation can change. They can be vague. And they can conflict. Lawyers spend years studying law. It’s not a do it yourself project. So never try. Never rely on this site. Nor on any other site

Get advice about Idaho alcohol laws from an expert. That is, a lawyer who holds a license in the state. Alcohol laws and criminal justice practices vary across the state. For this reason, it’s a good idea to select one very versed in your locale. It’s also wise to pick one who has many DUI cases.


So now you know more about Idaho alcohol laws than most residents of the state!