Nevada Alcohol Laws: Know Them? Don’t Gamble on It.

This page will help you understand Nevada alcohol laws. This could avoid expensive fines or even jail. Not to mention time and embarrassment.

Nevada alcohol laws apply both to its residents and its many visitors. Visitors should not assume that its laws are the same as those at home. And not knowing the law is no defense.


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

I. Minimum Age Requirements

The tourist industry is enormous and has many jobs. Young people seeking work may want to know the ages needed for jobs in hospitality. What’s the age for serving alcohol? For tending bar? For selling alcohol to drink elsewhere?

Young people have many such questions. So we have answers.

Nevada alcohol laws permit persons 21 or older to serve alcohol or to tend bar. But it’s 16 for selling alcohol for drinking off-site. This includes beer, wine or distilled spirits (liquors). A manager or supervisor must be present.

It is a crime to use a false ID to get alcohol. It’s also a crime to make, transfer, lend, or sell a false ID.

Those under 21 may not drive if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher.

nevada alcohol lawsThose of any age under 21 may drink in private locations. A parent, guardian or spouse must be present. Many parents do this to demystify alcohol and teach moderation. Their belief is logical. It’s that young people should learn how to drink in the parents’ house instead of a fraternity house.

II. Other Nevada Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

Licensed businesses may sell beer, wine, and distilled spirits 24/7. Spirits are vodka, rum, tequila, bourbon, scotch, whiskey, etc. Thus, grocery and convenience stores generally sell beer, wine, and spirits. Also, some package stores offer drive-through service.

It’s a violation of Nevada alcohol laws to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. The punishment is jail for up to six months and/or fines up to $1,000. Selling alcohol through the internet to anyone under 21 carries a $500 fine.

The town of Panaca is totally dry. That is, it has alcohol prohibition laws in effect. Mormons settled Panaca in 1864. And it’s still illegal to sell any alcoholic beverage there.

B. Buying Alcohol

Nevada’s alcohol laws prohibit those under 21 from buying, illegally possessing, or drinking alcohol. (Of course they can drink under conditions noted above.) Otherwise, the penalty is jail for up to six months and/or fines up to $1,000.

Those under 18 face (that is, non-adults) face those penalties and more. They include license suspension for at least 90 days. But it could be up to two years. Also a substance use evaluation and possible mandatory rehab. Of course, this would be at the offender’s expense.

There are no statewide laws prohibiting open alcohol containers in public. Although local ordinances do.

Some states prohibit public intoxication, whereas others explicitly legalize it. Nevada is among the latter. In fact state law prohibits any county or town from making it illegal.

Those under 21 may not enter stand-alone bars, taverns, or saloons. That is, venues whose primary business is serving alcohol.

C. Driving and Alcohol

nevada alcohol lawsIt’s a violation of Nevada alcohol laws to drive under the influence of alcohol (DUI). That is, with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. For drivers under 21, it’s 0.02% or higher. And for commercial drivers it’s 0.04% or higher.

Driving with a BAC at or above the legal limit is an offense in and of itself. But courts can convict drivers of DUI with a lower BAC. That’s because lower levels impair some people. On the other hand, many people have great tolerance. So illegal levels don’t impair them. But they can’t present this fact in their defense.

The exact penalties for DUI depend on the facts. And also on the judge.

    First DUI

    • Jail for at least two days. Yet it might be up to six months. Alternatively, the judge may choose a sentence of 96 hours of community service.
    • Fine of at least $400. But it could be up to $1,000.
    • Driving license revocation for 90 days.
    • DUI school attendance.
    • Possible order to complete substance abuse treatment.

   Second DUI within Seven Years

    • Jail or home arrest for at least ten days. However, it might be as long as six months.
    • Fine of at least $750. But it might be up to $1,000.
    • Driving license revocation for one year.
    • Community service of at least 100 hours. Yet it might be up to 200 hours.
    • Possiblility of vehicle registration suspension.
    • Possible order for substance abuse treatment program or clinical supervision for up to one year.

   Third DUI within Seven Years

    • Jail for one to six years.
    • Fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
    • Driving license revocation for three years.
    • Possible suspension of vehicle registration.

    Other Important Facts

Having a passenger under age 15 at the time of the DUI leads to more penalties.

A DUI causing serious injury or death leads to prison for three years. The fine is $2,000 to $5,000. And the license suspension is for three years.

It’s illegal to drive with opened alcoholic containers anywhere in a vehicle except the trunk. But it is legal to have them in the living areas of a motor home or RV. It’s also legal to have them in the passenger areas of a bus, taxi, or limousine.

Driver Rights

All drivers have a US Constitutional right to decline submitting to a chemical BAC or drug test. But the state punishes those who use their right. It’s a license suspension of at least one year. And officers may arrest those drivers on the spot.

nevada alcohol lawsYet there is no legal penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. They are highly subjective and lack validity. For instance, about one-third of completely sober people fail field sobriety tests. That is, about one of three people with zero BAC (0.00%) fail them! And those are under ideal indoor conditions. And if you’re stopped, it won’t be under ideal conditions.

So lawyers strongly advise drivers never, ever take to take a field sobriety test. They say to politely refuse. And to do so as often as needed.

Yet that may take willpower. The reason is that police love the tests. And officers know many ways to talk drivers into taking them.

For example, many say that the law requires it. But it doesn’t. In fact, no state in the US does.

Or they may say drivers can prove their innocence by taking the test. But they don’t need to prove their innocence. To the contrary. It’s the state that has to prove that drivers are at guilty.

While investigating, police can legally lie. In that case, officers aren’t your friends. In fact, their purpose is to collect evidence in order to arrest you. So don’t be a sucker.

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

D. Boating and Alcohol

nevada alcohol lawsNevada alcohol laws prohibit boating under the influence (BUI). It’s illegal to operate any vessel under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance.

Vessels include sailboats, powerboats, personal water crafts, waterskis, sailboards, wake boards, etc.

BUI occurs with a BAC of 0.08% to more. Or by being under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance. That is, to the degree the boater can’t safely operate vessels.

Penalties for BUI are up to six months in jail and/or fines up to $1,000. A BUI resulting in serious injury or death is a crime. The sentence includes prison for two to 20 years. The fines are $2,000 to $5,000.

Homicide by vessel occurs when the offender has three past BUI convictions. Then they have an accident that kills someone. The penalty is prison for 25 years to life. The state can’t parole offenders until until after ten years in prison.

Needless to say, field sobriety tests on boats are extremely difficult to pass.

III. Resources on Nevada Alcohol Laws

IV. Legal Advice

As in all states, Nevada alcohol laws can be confusing. Lawyers spend years of studing it. Laws change. They may not be clear. Sometimes courts re-interpreted them. They may conflict with each other.

Never rely on this site. Nor any other site. The risks are too high. It’s simply not worth the gamble.

So get facts and advice about Nevada alcohol laws from an expert. That is a lawyer holding a license in the state. Not doing this could be a big mistake. Don’t be a loser in Nevada.

Also the state is a large one. As a result laws vary. Therefore, it’s a good idea to select one in your location. To that end, the state bar of Nevada provides a free search service.


At this point you know more by far about Nevada alcohol laws than most residents of the state. So kudos!