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

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. That could lead to serious problems.


I.   Minimum Age                                 Requirements
II.  More Nevada Alcohol                  Laws
III. Resources
IV.  Get 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?

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

It is a criminal act 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. More Nevada Alcohol Laws

Selling Alcohol

Licensed businesses may sell beer, wine, and distilled spirits 24/7. Spirits are vodka, rum, tequila, bourbon, scotch, etc. Thus, grocery and convenience stores generally sell beer, wine, and spirits. 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. It’s still illegal to sell any alcoholic beverage there.

Buying Alcohol

Nevada’s alcohol laws prohibit those under 21 from buying, illegally possessing, or drinking alcohol. The penalty is jail for up to six months and/or fines up to $1,000. Those under 18 face those penalties and more. They include license suspension for 90 days to two years. Also a substance use evaluation and possible mandatory rehab.

There are no statewide laws prohibiting open alcohol containers in public. However, local ordinances often prohibit open containers.

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

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

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. However, 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. However, they can’t present this fact as evidence in their defense.

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

First DUI

  • Jail for two days to six months or community service of 96 hours.
  • Fine of $400 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 ten days to six months.
  • Fine of $750 to $1,000.
  • Driving license revocation for one year.
  • Community service of 100 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

  • Prison 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 additional 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. However, 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 U.S. Constitutional right to decline submitting to a chemical BAC or drug test. However, the state punishes those who use their right with a license suspension of at least one year. And officers may arrest those drivers immediately.

nevada alcohol lawsYet there is no legal penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. They are highly subjective and lack validity. For example, 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!

Lawyers strongly advise drivers to politely and repeatedly refuse to submit to a field sobriety test. Officers know many ways to talk drivers into taking them. Many insist that the law requires it. But no law requires it.

They may say drivers can prove their innocence by taking the test. Yet officers don’t consider passing as proof of sobriety. And their arguments go on and on.

While investigating, police can legally lie. So don’t be a sucker. That’s why lawyers say to politely refuse. And to do so as often as necessary.

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

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, and similar devices.

BUI occurs with a BAC of 0.08% to more. Or by being under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance so 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 boating under the influence 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.

Not surprisingly, field sobriety tests on boats are extremely difficult to pass.

 III. Resources on Nevada Alcohol Laws

IV. Get Legal Advice

As in all states, Nevada alcohol laws can be confusing. Lawyers spend years of studing law. 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 information and advice about Nevada alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer holding a license in the state. Not doing this could be a big mistake. Don’t be a loser in Nevada. The state bar of nevada provides a free search service.