Indiana Alcohol Laws: Violate Religious Freedom?

indiana alcohol lawsIndiana alcohol laws surprise many people. They prohibit those under 21 from taking communion wine or wine with Seder. And they prohibit parents from teaching their offspring how to drink in moderation. They prohibit 20-year-old newlyweds from sharing a glass of wine at their reception.

It’s all too easy to break alcohol laws in Indiana.

I. Minimum Age Alcohol Laws


I.   Minimum Age Alcohol Laws
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources
IV.  Seek Good Advice

Young people often want to work part-time. Many want to work in hospitality. Some need to know the minimum age for jobs involving alcohol. At what age can they be servers in venues that sell alcohol? To be bartenders? To be cashiers in stores selling alcohol for consumption off-site?

Indiana alcohol laws let adults age 18 or older to be servers or cashiers in venues that sell alcohol. It can be for drinking either on or off-site. A supervisor must be present. The minimum legal age to tend bar is 21.

Indiana has no law that prohibits those under the age of 21 from buying alcohol. But it prohibits giving false information to buy it. It also prohibits having or drinking alcohol by such persons.

Indiana alcohol laws also prohibit those under 21 from driving with a BAC over 0.02.

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

indiana alcohol lawsLicensed retailers may sell or serve alcoholic beverages from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Restaurants and bars may serve alcohol between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. on Sundays.

Package, grocery, convenience, and drug stores may sell beer and wine. However, grocery convenience, convenience, and drug stores may not sell cold beer, wine, or hard cider. (The state classifies cider as wine.) Only liquor stores may sell those beverages when cold. Retailers may not sell packaged beer, wine or spirits on Sundays. In addition, no alcohol may be sold on Election Day or Christmas Day.

Microbreweries may sell their products on Sundays where they brew them. In addition, the state permits them to sell at trade shows and similar events.

It’s illegal to sell or give alcohol to an intoxicated customer. A seller who does so faces civil liability if injury or death results.

Businesses that sell alcohol for consumption on-premises have special requirements. They must have food service seating for at least 25 customers. Minimum food service consists of hot soups, hot sandwiches, coffee, milk, and soft drinks. Businesses must make that service available during their alcohol sales hours.

indiana alcohol lawsIt’s illegal to give discounts to some without making them available to all customers. For example, “drinks half-price to females.” Also unlawful are “Happy Hour” prices not available all day. For example, reduced prices between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Off-site retailers must check the IDs of every customer under age 40. But this isn’t a legal requirement for on-site sellers.

Buying Alcohol

It’s illegal for anyone under age 21 to buy alcohol. Or to try to buy it. And it’s illegal to give alcohol to anyone that age or who is intoxicated. A person who does so commits a criminal offense. The person also faces civil liability if injury or death results.

Customers cannot buy cold beer or wine at grocery or other stores. They can only buy them at liquor stores. Microbreweries may sell their products any day of the week. The sales imit is two cases per person.

Indiana’s laws also prohibit public intoxication.

Driving and Alcohol

indiana alcohol lawsIndiana alcohol laws prohibit operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). The violation is also called driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI).

Indiana’s OWI laws also prohibit driving while using alcohol or drugs, even if not intoxicated.

Intoxication is having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, it’s 0.04%. Zero tolerance for those under 21 sets the limit at 0.02% or higher.

Penalties for OWI depend on the driver’s age, BAC level, and the age of any passengers. Also on the number and type of any driving convictions and the specific judge hearing the case.

First Offenseindiana alcohol laws
  • Imprisonment 180 days.
  • Fines up to $5,000.
  • Fees and court costs of at least $300.
  • License suspension for two years.
  • Mandated completion a substance abuse education course.
  • Attendance required at a victim impact panel.

Restricted hardship license possible after 30 days of license suspension. Judge may require installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on vehicle. This prevents vehicle from starting if too much alcohol is in driver’s breath.Offender pays installation, maintenance, and monitoring costs.

A BAC over 0.15% receives more severe punishments. So do repeat offenses and OWIs resulting in injury or death

Driver Rights

All drivers have a right under the U.S. Constitution to decline submitting a chemical test. However, Indiana punishes those who use their right. Their driving license is suspended for two years. On the other hand, failing a breath test brings only suspension for 180 days.

indiana alcohol lawsHowever, there is no legal penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. These are very subjective and notoriously unreliable. For example, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, about one of every three people with zero alcohol (a BAC of 0.00%) can’t pass them.

Lawyers strongly urge drivers never to take a field sobriety test. Officers often insist that the law requires taking it. The law does not. Any officer who pulls a driver over for suspected OWI is conducting a criminal investigation. It is perfectly legal for the officer to be dishonest and  lie to a suspect in a criminal investigation. If you are a suspect in a crime, the police is officer is never your friend or ally.

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

Boating and Alcohol

indiana alcohol lawsIt’s a violation of Indiana alcohol laws to operate a motorboat or a personal watercraft (PWC) while intoxicated. That may be from alcohol. Or from any combination of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs.

Having a BAC of 0.08% is intoxication. So is having enough alcohol and/or drugs to
cause danger to others. Therefore, operators can be arrested with a BAC over 0.05% but under 0.08%

It’s also illegal for boat or PWC owner to let an intoxicated person operate it.


indiana alcohol lawsA first boating while intoxicated (BWI) offense includes the first within ten years. It may be penalized with suspension of both vehicle and vessel licenses. And that suspension is for 90 days to two years.

The penalties for a second conviction within five years are increased. They may include a fine plus loss of both vehicle and vessel licenses. This time the suspension is for one to two years.

Any additional BWI offenses are met with more severe punishments. A BWI that causes serious injury or death receives imprisonment, fines, suspension of licenses, and other penalties.

Declining a chemical test is punished with the penalties consistent with those above for convictions.

A good rule is simply not to drink and boat.

III. Resources on Indiana Alcohol Laws

Indianana alcohol lawsState Code

• Legislative Information

• Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Opinions

Attorney General Opinions

• Case Law

Alcohol & Tobacco Commission

Bar Association

IV.  Seek Good Advice

Alcohol laws in Indiana can be confusing. This is true in any state. They also differ between counties and between cities. Their interpretation can change. And they can conflict. Do not rely on this site. Or on any other.

indiana alcohol lawsBe warned. Friends may give advice. Neighbors may give advice. Family may give advice. Their advice is worth what they charged for it. Nothing. So smile. Thank them. And then ignore them.

Get information or advice on Indiana alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer licensed in the state. That’s wise.