Maine Alcohol Laws: Know Them & Avoid Serious Problems

This page will help you understand Maine alcohol laws and avoid expensive fines or even jail. Also wasted time and legal costs..

Maine alcohol laws cover state residents as well as visitors. Alcohol laws differ across the country. Even within one state. So visitors might assume the Maine laws are the same at home. But not knowing a law is no defense in court.             


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

Learn about the famous (or infamous) “Maine Law.”

I. Minimum Age Laws

Many young people hope to work in the summer tourist industry. They want to know the minimum ages for working around alcohol.

For instance, the age needed to sell or serve alcohol in restaurants. The age needed to work in a store selling alcohol for drinking elsewhere. Or for the age needed to tend bar.

People have questions. So we have answers.

Maine alcohol laws permit a person 17 or older be a server in a venue selling alcohol for drinking on-site. They may be a bartender or a clerk in a store selling alcohol for drinking elsewhere.  In all cases, a supervisor must be present. In its age laws, Maine makes no artificial distinctions between beer, wine and distilled spirits (liquor). That’s because standard drinks have the same amount of pure alcohol.

maine alcohol lawsPersons of any age below 21 may drink alcohol in private residences. That is if a parent or guardian is present. Thus, many parents serve their offspring alcohol to demystify it and teach moderation. And it’s effective.

It is illegal for those under 21 to buy alcohol. Use of a false ID to buy it is a crime. It’s also a crime to sell, lend, or transfer a false ID. And retailers may seize IDs that appear to be false.

The maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers under 21 is 0.00%. Having any alcohol in the system when driving is illegal.

II. Other Maine Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

Under Maine alcohol laws, selling alcohol to anyone under 21 is a crime. It carries carries jail for up to 364 days. And fines up to $2,000 plus surcharges.

If the customer drinks and causes serious bodily injury or death, the penalty is greater. It’s prison for up to five years and a $5,000 fine. In addition, there are surcharges and two years of probation.

It’s also illegal to sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.

Maine is a government monopoly state for the sale of spirits. It also has a monopoly on the sale of wine with alcohol content of 15.5% or higher.

But retail stores with an alcohol license may sell beer and table wine up to 15.5% alcohol.

It’s illegal to sell any alcohol between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. The same is true between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sundays.

The town of Cambridge permits beer sales all week. However, retailers may only sell wine and spirits on Sundays.

There are almost 60 completely dry communities in Maine. That is, they prohibit the sale of alcohol. They’re listed on Local Option.

Bars and restaurants may only sell two drinks at a time to a customer.

B. Buying Alcohol

maine alcohol lawsIt’s a violation of Maine alcohol laws for anyone under age 21 to buy, or attempt to buy, alcohol. Also a crime is using a false ID to do so.

The penalties for possessing alcohol under 21 are these. First offense is a fine of $100 to $300. A second offense is a fine of $200 to $500. Any more offenses are a fine of $500.

There are also penalties for providing alcohol to anyone under age 21. The charge is “unlawfully dealing with a minor.” Or another evil sounding crime. So it can keep young people from following some careers. Teaching, social work, and others. The fines are $500 to $2,000. And jail is six to 12 months.

Alcohol is illegal in state parks. It’s also illegal to drink in any public place after police say not to do so. Nor is it legal to drink publicly within 200 feet of a sign prohibiting it.

It’s not legal to permit drinking games in bars or restaurants. Nor can alcohol be a prize.

C. Driving and Alcohol

Drivers under age 21 who have any alcohol in their blood lose their license for one year. If they have a passenger under 21, the state imposes an extra 180 days to the suspension.

Most states set a limit for those under 21 at 0.02%. They do this for several reasons. One is that breath testers are not accurate. In fact, they don’t test BAC. They only estimate it.

Another reason is that many meds contain high levels of alcohol. Some foods do as well. Third, everyone produces alcohol in their bodies 24/7. So everyone always has alcohol in their blood. Including those under 21.

Most states set the limit higher to avoid convicting innocent young drivers.

Drivers under 21 who have alcohol in their vehicle, even if in the trunk, get a 30 day license suspension. There are two exceptions. One, if they’re doing it as part of their job. The other is if they are doing so at the request of their parent.

The penalties for a first offense is a 30 day license suspension. The fine is up to $500. For a second, it’s a 90 day license suspension. This time the fine of at least $200. And for a third, it’s one year license suspension. And the fine of at least $400.

No driver or passenger of any age may drink or possess alcohol in a vehicle’s passenger compartment. That also includes taxis.

Driver Rights

All drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to decline to take any breath test. But if they do, Maine punishes them. To do so, it confiscates their driver’s license. It may also jail them.

The state punishes those under 21 who use their right with a license suspension. It’s for 18 months. It also adds six months more if there was a passenger under 21. Penalties increase greatly for additional offenses.

Field Sobriety Tests

Punishments do not apply to refusing to take a field sobriety test. These “tests” lack validity. In fact, 30% of completely sober people fail to pass them. That is, about one of three people with a BAC of 0.00% fail. And they fail under ideal indoor conditions.

Lawyers strongly urge people to never, ever take them. They say to politely refuse. And to do so as long as needed.

Taking their advice will be hard to do. That’s because officers learn clever ways to talk people into taking the so-called tests. They may say you can prove your innocence by taking it. Bit that’s backward. It’s the state that must prove that you’re guilty. Then they arrest them when they fail.

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

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

The penalty for possessing an unregistered or unlabeled keg is a fine up to $500. For destroying the label on a keg, it’s a fine up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail

Penalties for violating Maine alcohol laws about driving can include the required use of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID prevents the engine from starting if the driver’s breath contains alcohol fumes. An IID is very expensive. Needless to say, the offender pays all costs. Judges can also require alcohol education or treatment for alcohol abuse.

D. Boating and Alcohol

maine alcohol lawsMaine alcohol laws prohibit operating or attempting to operate a vessel. It’s in any of these conditions.

Under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs.
Having a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
If under age 21, having any measurable alcohol in the system.

Violating any of these laws is a crime. Thus, it as punishable as such.

III. Resources on Maine Alcohol Laws

IV. Advice on Drinking Laws in Maine

Laws often seen simple when they’re not. There are many factors in what is legal and what isn’t. Lawyers spend years learning law.

Don’t try it yourself. So never rely on this site. Nor on any other site. Nor on relatives or neighbors unless they are lawyers. Their advice will be worth what you paid for it. That is, nothing. Even worse, their advice may be wrong. So don’t take the chance.

Get facts or advice on Maine’s alcohol laws from an expert. That is a lawyer who holds a license in the state. Alcohol attitudes and enforcement varies across Maine. So it’s a good idea to choose one who practices in the locality of concern.


At this point you now know much more about Maine alcohol laws than most residents. So kudos!