Nebraska Alcohol Laws: Know Them and Avoid Big Problems!

This page will help you understand Nebraska alcohol laws and avoid expensive fines or even jail. As well as wasted time and legal costs.

Nebraska alcohol laws may be different from those visitors have at home. But it’s best to know them. Especially those dealing with drinking. Note that ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse.


          1. Minimum Age Laws
          2. OtherAlcohol Laws.
          3. Resources
          4. Get Legal Advice

I. Minimum Age Laws

Young people often want to work part-time. One source of jobs they can do is in hospitality. They want to know the ages needed for them.

How old must people be to serve alcohol in restaurants? What’s the minimum age to sell alcohol for use elsewhere? Am I old enough to work as a bartender?

Nebraska alcohol laws permit adults who are 19 or older to have those jobs. They can serve alcohol for on-site drinking. They can tend bar. And they can work in stores selling alcohol to drink elsewhere.

Those of any age under 21 may drink in their parent or guardian’s home.

Buying alcohol by those under 21 is illegal. And the use of a false ID to buy alcohol is a crime.

It’s also illegal for those under 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration  (BAC) over 0.02%.

II. Other Nebraska Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

Grocery stores may sell beer, wine, and distilled spirits (liquor). Both venues that sell alcohol for on-site and for off-site use may do so 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Retailers also may sell alcohol on election day.

It’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone, including adults, under age 21. The penalty for doing it is jail up to one year and/or a fine up to $1,000.

Clerks may confiscate false IDs and call police for possible prosecution of the offender.

Other Illegal Acts

Customers may not bring their own alcohol into licensed premises. Nor may customers remove remove opened alcohol containers from licensed premises. This means the unfinished bottle of wine must remain in the restaurant. Many states permit doing this to reduce over-drinking and promote traffic safety. On the other hand, guests at an alcohol-licensed hotel may bring their own alcohol into their rooms for use there.

It’s illegal to sell unlimited drinks at a set price. Also to give a free drink on condition the customer buys another. The penalty for these infractions can be alcohol license suspension, cancellation, or revocation.

Nebraska is the only state that makes it illegal to sell a drink containing beer and a distilled spirit. Thus, it’s illegal to sell a boilermaker. On the other hand, it’s perfectly legal to sell a Long Island Tea. That drink contains five different spirits.

A 12-ounce Long Island Iced Tea is about 33% alcohol (not counting ice) and is legal. But a 12-ounce Boilermaker is about 10% alcohol. But it’s illegal. Did anyone ever say that alcohol laws are logical?

B. Buying Alcohol

All alcohol-licensed businesses must prominently display a 20” x 14″ sign. It warns about the penalty for purchasing alcohol for anyone under 21.

Those under age 21 may buy or attempt to buy alcohol. Nor can they help police entrap clerks.

It’s illegal to possess a beer keg that either lacks registration or a label. The penalty is jail for three months and a fine of $500. The same penalty applies to destroying the label on a keg.

Neither owners of a licensed business nor their employees may consume alcohol on the premises after hours.

C. Driving and Alcohol

Nebraska alcohol laws consider driving under the influence (DUI) to be any of these. A BAC is any of these.

    • 0.08% or higher.
    • 0.04% for drivers of commercial vehicles.
    • 0.02% for drivers, including adults, under 21.

Yet much is at the sole discretion of the officer or judge. For instance, the state can charge drivers with BACs well below these limits with DUI.

Many alcoholic drivers have developed great tolerance for alcohol. As a result, they are unimpaired above the legal levels. Yet proving that they are thus unimpaired is not admissible in court.

Under Nebraska alcohol laws police arresting someone for suspected DUI may seize the driver’s license or give a temporary one.

DUI Penalties

For a first DUI conviction, the penalty is jail for up to ten days and a fine up to $500. In addition, the state revokes the driver’s license for up to six months.

A second offense brings jail for 30 to 90 days. The fine is up to $1,000. And the license revocation is up to 18 months.

For a third or any more conviction, the penalties increase. They’re jail for 90 to 180 days. Also a fine of up to $1,000 and license revocation for up to 15 years.

Driver Rights

The U.S. Constitution grants all drivers the right not to take a BAC test. But the state punishes drivers who use their right. It revokes their license for one year.

There is no legal penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. That’s because these lack reliability. In fact, 30% of people with zero BAC (0.00%) fail them. That is, about one of every completely sober people fail them. And that’s under ideal indoor conditions.


However, police love field sobriety tests. They’re highly subjective. So  the officer who stops you for suspected DUI decides whether or not you pass. Police often tell drivers that the law requires them to take the test. But no state does.

Or police say you can prove your innocence by taking the test. But people don’t need to prove their innocence. To the contrary. It’s the state that has to prove them guilty. And if police had the evidence needed to arrest, they wouldn’t need to ask drivers to take the test!

Lawyers strongly advise drivers to never, ever take a field sobriety test. They say to politely decline. And to do so as many times as needed.

Learn more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test.

License Revocation
Ignition Interlock Device

Drivers whose licenses are under revocation must have an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. This is true even if not convicted.

An IID is a device that prevents the engine from starting if there is alcohol in the driver’s breath. Otherwise, the state won’t reinstate their license

To reinstate their license after satisfying penalties, drivers generally need to do at least three things.

    • Complete a required alcohol treatment, education and evaluation program. The offender pays for this.
    • Pass the driver’s license tests.
    • Pay a $125 fee.

D. Boating and Alcohol

Nebraska alcohol laws prohibit operating a boat with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. It’s Boating Under the Influence (BUI). The penalty is jail for up to six months and and a fine up to $1,000. And the state revokes the boating operator’s license for up to six months.

The state punishes using their Constitutional right to decline a BAC test. It’s the same penalty as a BUI.

III. Resources on Nebraska Alcohol Lawsnebraska alcohol laws

IV. Legal Advice

Nebraska alcohol laws can be confusing. Some appear to conflict with others. Which ones prevail? Which apply in different situations? Knowing how to interpret laws takes legal training.

That’s why lawyers study law for years. Then they must keep up with changes. Don’t try to interpret the law yourself. So never rely on this site. Nor on any other site.

And don’t rely on advice from friends. From colleagues. From neighbors. Nor from any non-lawyers.

Get facts and advice about Nebraska alcohol laws from an expert. That is a lawyer who holds a license in the state. The state bar has a free lawyer referral service.

But the very best advice is not to drink and drive.


So now you know more about Nebraska alcohol laws than most residents of the state. Kudos!