Nebraska Alcohol Laws: It’s Best to Know Them

Nebraska alcohol laws may be different from those visitors have at home. But it’s best to know them. Especially those dealing with drinking.

I. Minimum Ages


I.   Minimum Ages

II.  Alcohol Violations

III. Resources

IV.  Seek Good Advice

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 consumption 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-premises consumption. 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. The use of a false ID to buy alcohol is a criminal act.

It is also illegal for those under 21 to drive with a BAC over 0.02.

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

Grocery stores may sell beer, wine, and spirits. Both establishments that sell alcohol for on-premises and for off-premises consumption may do so 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Alcohol may also be sold on election day.

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

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

Customers may not bring their own alcohol into licensed premises. Thus, there are no corkage fees. But customers can’t 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 consumption 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 !0% alcohol. But it’s illegal. Did anyone ever say that alcohol laws are logical?

Purchasing 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 to help law enforcement entrap clerks.

It’s illegal to possess an unregistered or unlabeled beer keg. The penalty is imprisonment 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.


nebraska alcohol lawsNebraska alcohol laws consider driving under the influence (DUI) to be any of these.

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

However, much is at the sole discretion of the arresting officer or judge. For example, drivers with BACs well below these limits can still be charged with DUI.

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

An officer arresting someone for suspected DUI may immediately seize the driver’s license or give a temporary one.

DUI Penalties

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

A second offense brings imprisonment 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 subsequent conviction, the penalties increase. They’re
imprisonment for 90 to 180 days. A fine of up to $1,000 and license revocation for up to 15 years.

An arresting officer may ask drivers to submit to a field sobriety test. About one-third of completely sober people fail the. Everyone has a U.S. Constitutional right to decline the test. However, the state punishes those who invoke their right to decline with a license revocation of one year.

nebraska alcohol lawsDrivers whose licenses have been revoked, even if not convicted of DUI, must have an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Otherwise, they can’t get their licensed reinstated. This is a device that prevents the engine from starting if there is alcohol in the driver’s breath.

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

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


Operating a boat with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is Boating Under the Influence (BUI). The penalty is imprisonment for up to six months and and a fine up to $1,000. In addition, the boating operator’s license is revoked for up to six months.

Asserting one’s Constitutional right to decline a BAC test is punished with the same consequences as a BUI.

III. Resources on Nebraska Alcohol Laws


IV. Seek Good 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. Never rely on this site. Nor on any other site. And don’t rely on advice from friends. From colleagues. From neighbors.  Or from any non-lawyers.

Get information and advice about Nebraska alcohol laws from an expert. That’s 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.