Missouri Alcohol Laws: It’s Wise to Know Them

Missouri alcohol laws apply to its residents and visitors. People should know that alcohol laws vary from state to state. Not knowing this can be a painful lesson. It’s no defense against conviction.

I. Minimum Age Laws

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

Many young people want part-time jobs. Hospitality has many. Some involve working with alcohol. Youths want to know the age requirements. How old must one be to serve alcohol in a restaurant? To sell alcohol in a venue to be consumed elsewhere? To tend bar?

Missouri alcohol laws permit adults 18 or older to serve alcohol to drink on-site. It requires them to be 21 or older to tend bar.

Adults age 18 and older may also sell alcohol in stores for off-site consumption. A supervisor must be on the premises.

missouri alcohol lawsThose of any age under 21 may drink. It must be given to them by a parent or guardian. Many do this to de-mystefy alcohol and promote responsible drinking.

Missouri alcohol laws have no exception for religious consumption. No exception for taking communion wine. For having wine with Seder. This seems at odds with religious freedom.

The use a false ID to buy alcohol is a criminal act. It is also illegal for those under 21 to drive if they have a BAC over 0.02.

It is illegal for anyone other than a parent or guardian to give alcohol to anyone under age 21. The consequences of a conviction could be life-long. It could prevent the convicted from becoming a teacher, lawyer, law enforcement officer, social worker, or other professional.

II. Alcohol Violations

Alcohol Sales

It’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. Also it’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated, appears intoxicated, or is habitually intoxicated.

Violators face up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $41,000.

Places that sell alcohol may not permit customers to leave the premises with open alcohol containers. However, restaurants may allow patrons to leave with unfinished bottles of wine. The bottles must be closed and placed in sealed bags.

In St. Louis, Kansas City, and surrounding areas bars may remain open until 3 p.m.

Alcohol Purchases

missouri alcohol lawsIt’s illegal to use a false ID to buy or try to buy alcohol. The penalties for doing so are fines up to $1,500 and/or imprisonment up to one year.

People who find anyone under 21 drinking or possessing alcohol on their property must stop the activity. Those guilty of failing to do so face fines up to $500 and up to six months of imprisonment. That’s for a first offense. A second violation may double those penalties. That is, fines up to $1,000 and up to one year of imprisonment.

It is not illegal for those age 21 or older to be publicly intoxicated. Indeed, the state specifically protects the right of such individuals to be intoxicated. However, it’s illegal for a person under 21 to appear in public visibly intoxicated. Nor may they have a BAC over 0.02, even if not driving. Penalties are imprisonment up to one year and fines up to $1,000.

Missouri allows residents age 21 or over to produce up to 100 gallons of any alcohol annually for personal use. The alcohol can be beer, wine, or spirits.The state does not tax the alcohol.


It’s illegal to drive while intoxicated (DWI). For anyone age 21 or older, that’s driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. For adults and others under 21, the limit is under 0.02. However, the state can convict a person of DWI even if the BAC is below those limits. It depends on the circumstances and the judge.

Under Age 21

missouri alcohol lawsThe state suspends for 90 days the license of anyone under age 21 guilty of

Possession of alcohol while driving.
Modifying a driver’s license.

Those guilty must also complete the state’s Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program. Offenders must pay the cost of attending the class. They must also pay a $249 fee to the Department of Mental Health. Finally, they must pay a $45 license reinstatement fee. If they’re under 18, they can’t get a license until age 17.

The penalty for a second or subsequent offense is revocation of driver’s license for one year.

Age 21 or Older

Arresting officers confiscate the driver’s licenses of those with a BAC reading of 0.08 or above. If drivers are later convicted of DWI, the state adds eight points to their license.

missouri alcohol lawsDriver’s licenses are revoked for one year for drivers who have a total of

12 points in 12 months.
18 points in 24 months.
24 points in 36 months.

Twelve points are added for a second and any additional convictions of an alcohol-related offense. In addition, a second conviction carries a penalty of five days in jail or 30 days of community service. A third and any other conviction is penalized with ten days in jail or 60 days of community service.

Special Offender Categories

Missouri alcohol laws include two offender categories for special punishment. One is “aggravated offender.” An aggravated offender is a person guilty of

1. Three or more intoxication-related traffic offenses.
2. Involuntary manslaughter, second degree murder arising from an intoxication-related offense, or assault in the second degree assault.
or missouri alcohol laws
3. Assaulting a law enforcement officer in the second degree.

Aggravated offenders must be imprisoned at least 60 days before being eligible for probation or parole.

The second category for special punishment is that of “chronic offender.” A chronic offender offender is a person guilty of

1. Four or more intoxication-related traffic offenses.
b) Two or more separate occasions involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault, or second degree assault of a law enforcement officer.
3. Second degree involuntary manslaughter, or second degree assault of a law enforcement officer in the second degree. And also two or more intoxication-related offenses.missouri alcohol laws

A chronic offenders must serve two years in prison before being eligible for probation or parole.


There is no state law preventing passengers in a vehicle from drinking alcohol. However, some localities prohibit open alcohol containers in vehicles.

Missouri requires drivers to take a BAC test if requested by police. People have the right to decline, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. And people can avoid a conviction for DWI by exercising that right. However, the state punishes them for using their by suspending the driver’s license for a full year.

However, this does not apply to refusing to take a field sobriety test. These tests are notoriously subjective and highly unreliable. Lawyers strongly advise drivers not to take them. About one-third of people with a BAC of 0.00 fail them. Lawyers say to refuse politely. Officers may try hard to convince drivers it’s in their own best interest to take them. It never is. Learn more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.


missouri alcohol lawsOperating a vessel with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is illegal. The crime is boating while intoxicated (BWI).

The penalty for a first conviction of BWI is 12 points added to the license. In addition, the offender must pass an approved boating safety course.

Twelve points are added for each subsequent conviction. A license is revoked for one year if an operator has a total of

12 points in 12 months
18 points in 24 months
24 points in 36 months.

Missouri alcohol laws require boaters to submit to a BAC test if law enforcement requests it. Submitting is voluntary. However, those who exercise their right are punished with a one-year license suspension.

It’s illegal to possess or use a beer bong on Missouri rivers except the Mississippi, Missouri, and Osage Rivers. The same is true of any four-gallon container holding any alcoholic beverage.

III. Resources on Missouri  Alcohol Laws


IV. Seek Reliable Advice on Missouri Alcohol Laws

Law is complex. Lawyers go to law school for years to learn it. Laws can change. Their interpretation can change. Never rely on this site. And beware. Friends may give advice. Kin may give opinions. Neighbors may give views. Colleagues may give stories. In-laws may give warnings. They want to help. Ignore them if they aren’t lawyers.

Rely on a lawyer licensed in Missouri to answer your questions and give advice. Alcohol attitudes and practices vary across the state. For this reason, it’s wise to select a lawyer in your locale. The state bar has a free lawyer referral service.