Mississippi Alcohol Laws: Temperance-oriented?

Mississippi alcohol laws might surprise. The state has a strong temperance history. But it’s state-wide alcohol laws are in the US mainstream.

              Overview

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

Mississippi has a long temperance tradition. It had state-wide prohibition long before the rest of the country. It was the first to ratify National Prohibition. After Repeal it long kept its own prohibition. After that, it “reaffirmed prohibition.” But it permits  local option. Today, about half of the state’s counties are “dry.” State alcohol laws prohibit bringing alcohol through a dry county while traveling.

I. Minimum Age Requirements

Many young people want part-time jobs. Many are in hospitality. Some involve selling or serving alcohol. What age is needed to serve alcohol in a restaurant? How about about for tending bar? What is it for selling alcohol to be consumed off-site?

Mississippi alcohol laws permit adults to be servers in venues selling alcohol for drinking on-site. That is, the minimum age is 18. They require persons to be at least 21 to tend bar. The same to sell alcohol for drinking off-site

Those 18 or older may drink beer or light wine in private locations. It must be furnished by a parent, guardian, or spouse. It does not permit them to drink distilled spirits. That’s rum, vodka, tequila, gin, bourbon, scotch, etc.

mississippi alcohol lawsDistinguishing between spirits and other alcoholic beverages is based on a myth. It’s that a drink of spirits has more alcohol than a beer or glass of dinner wine. In fact, standard drinks of beer, dinner wine and spirits have equivalent alcohol content. It’s six-tenths of one ounce of pure alcohol.

The use of a false ID to buy alcohol is a criminal act. It may result in driver’s license suspension

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

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

Mississippi is an alcohol monopoly state for the sale of all wine over 14% alcohol and distilled spirits. Spirits are rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, scotch, tequila, etc.

Package stores sell alcohol for consumption off premises. They may sell from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. However, they may not sell on Sundays or Christmas Day.

Off premises retailers may sell beer 24/7. However, local ordinances may restrict the hours of sale. And they may prohibit sales on Sundays.

Other retailers sell alcohol for drinking on their premises. They may sell from 10 a.m. until midnight Mondays through Saturdays. On New Years Eve they may remain open until 1:00 a.m. New Years Day. If December 31 falls on a Sunday, they may sell from 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

On-premises businesses may sell beer from 7 a.m. until midnight seven days per week. Local ordinances may reduce but not increase these sales hours.

In state-designated resort areas, these sales days and hours do not apply.

Under Age 21 Sales

Mississippi alcohol laws prohibit selling alcohol to anyone under 21. That includes adults under that age. The penalty for doing so is a fine of $500 to $1,000. For a second offense, the penalty is a fine of $1,000 to $2,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year. And the business loses its license.

Many Mississippi counties are dry. That is, they prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. In this map, wet counties are blue whereas dry counties are wellow.

mississippi alcohol laws

Buying Alcohol

Mississippi alcohol laws prohibit anyone under 21 from buying alcohol. The penalty for doing so is a fine of $200 to $500. It’s also illegal for such a person to use a false ID in an attempt buy alcohol. The penalty is a $200 to $500 fine. In addition, there is a sentence for up to 30 days of community service.

The use of a false ID includes using another person’s ID, altering one’s own, or reproducing a fake ID. Selling false driver’s licenses is punishable with imprisonment up to three three years. Plus a fine up to $5,000.

Other Information

Adults (people 18 and older) serving in the military may drink beer on military property.

Persons under the age of 21 may enter the premises of  any business licensed to sell alcohol.

It’s illegal to bring any alcoholic beverages into Mississippi. It’s even illegal to transport alcohol across dry counties. For example, when driving from Tennessee to Louisiana.

Driving and Alcohol

mississippi alcohol lawsMississippi alcohol laws prohibit driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs. DUI is driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. For those under age 21, it’s 0.02 or higher.

Those are the BAC limits. However, drivers can still be convicted of DUI with a legal BAC. That’s because some people are impaired below the legal limit. Likewise, many people have developed high tolerance. Therefore, they are not impaired over the limit. However, they may not use their lack of impairment in their defense.mississippi alcohol laws

It is legal to drink while driving, although the driver’s BAC must remain under 0.08 while driving.

Penalties for DUI depend on the specifics of the case. That includes driver age, severity of the offense, driving history, and other factors. Penalties increase for DUIs involving crashes, injuries, or deaths. The severity of the penalties also depend on the judge who hears the case.

First Offense
  • Imprisonment for 48 hours.
  • A fine of $250 to $1,000.
  • Driving license suspension for at least 90 days. This is with completed Alcohol Safety Education Program and $200 fee.
  • License reinstatement fee of $175.
  • License hardship request fee of $50.
  • Ignition interlock device on vehicle at offender’s expense for restricted license.
  • Financial responsibility (SR 22) for three years.
Second Offense within Five Years
  • mississippi alcohol lawsImprisonment for one to five years.
  • Fine of $600 to $1,000.
  • Driving license suspension for two years.
  • License reinstatement fee of $175.
  • Ignition interlock device on vehicle at offender’s expense for restricted license.
  • Financial responsibility (SR 22) for three years.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • Community service of ten days to one year.
  • Financial responsibility (SR 22) for three years.
Third Offense within Five years
  • mississippi alcohol lawsImprisonment for one to five years.
  • Fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
  • Driver’s license suspension for five years.
  • License reinstatement fee of $175.
  • Ignition interlock device on vehicle at offender’s expense for restricted license.
  • Financial responsibility (SR 22) for three years.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.

Under Age 21 DUI Penalties

These are the minimum penalties for drivers with DUIs and a BAC between 0.02% and 0.08%. Judges usually impose additional penalties because of zero tolerance.

First Offense
  • Driver’s license suspension for 90 days.
  • A fine of $250.
Second Offense within Five Years
  • Driver’s license suspension for one year.
  • A fine of $500.
Third Offense within Five Years
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years or age 21, whichever is longer.
  • A fine of $1,000.

Driver Rights

All drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to decline submitting to a chemical test. However, the state punishes those who use their right with a 90-day license suspension.

mississippi alcohol lawsHowever, there is no legal penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. These are notoriously subjective and invalid. In fact, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, about one of every three people with zero BAC (0.00) fail them.

Lawyers strongly urge drivers to never, ever take them. They say to politely refuse and to do so as repeatedly if needed. Officers know many ways to convince drivers to take field sobriety tests. They often falsely insist that the law demands it. Not so. Some suggest that drivers can prove their innocence by passing the test. But officers don’t think passing is proof of sobriety.

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

Boating and Alcohol

missippi alcohol lawsMississippi alcohol laws prohibit operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (BUI). A BAC of 0.08% or higher shows alcohol intoxication. A watercraft is a vessel with a motor of 25 horsepower or higher. It also includes jet skis.

First BUI Offense
  • Imprisonment for up to 24 hours an/or a fine of $250 to $1,000.
  • Completion of an approved boating safety course
Second BUI Offense within Five Years
  • mississippi alcohol lawsImprisonment for two days to one year.
  • Fine of $600 to $1,000.
  • Community service for ten days to one year.
  • Operation of watercraft prohibition for one year.
Third BUI Offense within Five Years
  • Imprisonment for 30 days to one year.
  • Fine of $800 to $1,000.
  • Operation of watercraft prohibition for two years.
Fourth BUI Offense within Five Years
  • Imprisonment in the state penitentiary for 90 days to five years.
  • Fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
  • Operation of watercraft prohibition for three years.

III. Resources on Mississippi Alcohol LawsMississippi alcohol laws

IV. Seek Good Advice

Mississippi alcohol laws can be confusing. This is true in all states.  It takes legal training to interpret them. Lawyers spend years in study. Don’t rely on this site. Or on any site. Be warned. Friends may give advice. Neighbors may give advice. Co-workers may give advice. Even family members may give advice. Smile and thank them. Then ignore what they say. It’s the wise thing to do.

Get information and advice about Mississippi alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer holding a license in the state. It’ wise.