Oklahoma Alcohol Laws: Some May Surprise You!

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

Oklahoma alcohol laws cover all alcoholic beverages in the state. Of most concern to most people are drinking laws. Alcohol laws vary from state to state. They even vary within each state. The result is confusion. But breaking one can cause big problems.

So the goal of this page is to help you learn about Oklahoma alcohol laws and avoid any trouble.

           Overview
I.   Minimum Ages for Alcohol
II.  Other Alcohol Laws
III. Resources
IV. Advice

I. Minimum Ages for Alcohol

Young people may seek part-time jobs. Hospitality offers many. Youths may want to know the age needed for them. Many involve alcohol.

At what age can they be servers in venues selling alcohol? What about selling alcohol for drinking off-site? And is what is the age for tending bar? Young people have questions. So we have facts.

Oklahoma alcohol laws require that servers in venues selling alcohol be adults. That is, they must be at least 18. They must be at least 21 to tend bar or to work in a store selling alcohol for drinking off-site.

No state law prohibits all drinking by those of any age under 21. They may drink 3.2 beer. But they must be with a parent or guardian.

Those under 21 may also buy such beverages under the supervision of a parent or guardian. But they may not drink them on the premises of a retailer.

It is a crime to use a false ID to buy alcohol. A conviction can lead to driver’s license suspension.

It is illegal for those under 21 to drive with alcohol in the body. That is, their BAC must be no higher than 0.00%. But as shown below, this can convict innocent drivers.

II. Other Oklahoma Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

It’s a violation of Oklahoma alcohol laws to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. That includes adults under 21. Of course, as shown above, unless they’re under the supervision of a parent or guardian.

Grocery and convenience stores can sell only low-point beer or “near beer.” That’s beer between 0.5% and 3.2% alcohol by weight. But they can’t sell it between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Retailers must sell at room temperature all beverages over 3.2% alcohol by weight. That includes beer, wine and distilled spirits (liquor).

It’s illegal to sell alcohol for drinking off-site on certain days. These include Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sale is legal on election day. Retailers may sell alcohol on Sundays if voters in a county approve. That’s through local option.

Liquor stores can only sell alcohol between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Effective on the above date, alcohol sales may begin at 8 a.m.

Also see map of wet and dry counties at the very bottom of this page.

B. Buying Alcohol

It’s illegal for anyone under 21 to buy alcohol or to attempt to buy it. Doing so is a misdemeanor. Except as noted above.

Property owners may not permit anyone under 21 to drink on their property. (Except for parents or guardians.) The punishment for doing so is a fine and jail for up to five years.

Oklahoma alcohol laws prohibit drinking alcohol in public. Intoxication in public is also illegal. The penalty for either is a fine and jail for at last five days. But it could be for as long as 30 days.

C. Driving

Oklahoma alcohol lawsOklahoma alcohol laws prohibit driving under the influence (DUI). That is, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Also, driving under impairment with a BAC below that is illegal. Of course, that depends on the officer’s opinion. So that’s very subjective.

Drivers at least 21

These rules apply to drivers age 21 or older.

• BAC between 0.001% and 0.05% is not intoxication.
• A BAC between 0.051% and 0.079% is impairment. But courts need more evidence for conviction.
• Blood alcohol of 0.08% or higher is proof of intoxication.

Of course, many alcoholics have a very high level of alcohol tolerance. So a BAC even over 0.08% doesn’t impair them. Yet lawyers can’t present evidence of non-impairment in court.

Convictions

The penalties for DUI depend on the facts and the judge. Thus, some of the penalties can vary greatly depending on luck. No one wants a Judge Judy to hear their case.

   First Conviction

A first DUI conviction leads to jail for at least ten days. But it could be as long as one year. The state revokes the driver’s license for 180 days. And the fine is up to $1,000.

   Second Conviction

A second offense within ten years of the first increases the penalties. Jail is at least one year. But it could be as long as five years. If there was a revocation for DUI within the past five years, it’s now for one year.

After the revocation expires, the driver must have an ignition interlock device (IID) on the vehicle. The engine won’t start if there is any alcohol in the driver’s breath. The device must remain for six months to three years. Of course, the offender pays the high costs of this.

   More Convictions

The penalties increase for more convictions. Jail is from one to ten years. The state increases it to three years for two or more DUI revocations within five years.

The fine is up to $5,000. And the state requires an IID for up to three years after the revocation expires.

Drivers Under 21

oklahoma alcohol lawsFor drivers under 21, including adults, Oklahoma has a zero tolerance alcohol policy. Any detectible alcohol leads to driver’s license revocation.

Most other states set DUI for those under 21 at 0.02% or higher. They do this for several reasons. One is that alcohol breath testers are unreliable. In fact, they don’t actually measure BAC. They only estimate it. And indirectly.

A second reason is that everyone produces alcohol naturally within their bodies 24/7. And they don’t wait until age 21. Thirdly, many meds as well as foods contain alcohol. Even bread does. So setting the level at 0.02% reduces the chances of unfairly convicting innocent drivers

The state penalizes a first conviction with a six-month license revocation. Also, a $100-$500 fine and/or community service, and/or a treatment program.

A second conviction leads to a one-year license revocation. The fine is $100-$1,000 and/or community service, and/or a treatment program.

Drivers Under 18

Oklahoma drinking laws are different for those under 18 who have alcohol-related traffic violations. This also extends to non-drivers. The penalties include license suspension for six months to two years.

Other

It’s illegal to have an open alcohol container anywhere in a vehicle accessible to the driver. So it must be in the trunk or behind the back seat.

Drivers of any age have a US Constitutional right to decline any police request to take a BAC breath test. Yet the state punishes anyone using that right. To do so, it automatically revokes the license. It does so for the same period that it would if a court convicted the driver.

Punishment does not apply for refusing to take a field sobriety test. No state requires it. But polices often try to intimidate drivers into taking it. They may say the law requires it. No state requires it. Police may legally lie to you. So don’t fall for it

The test is highly subjective and unreliable. About one-third of people with a 0.00 BAC fail it. And they do so under ideal indoor conditions. If police stop you, it won’t be ideal conditions.

For this reason, lawyers strongly urge people not to take a field sobriety test. Politely refuse. And do so as long as needed. So take their advice.

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

D. Boating

oklahoma alcohol lawsOklahoma alcohol laws prohibit operating a vessel while under the influence. People are guilty of this under these conditions.

Have a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

 or

Are under the influence of any other substance making them incapable of safely operating a vessel.

or

Are under the influence of alcohol and any other substance making them incapable of safely operating a vessel.

The penalty for a first offense is a fine of up to $1,000. Any later convictions result in a fine of at last $1,000. But it could be as high as $2,500.

The state can use declining to submit to a BAC test against the operator in court.

III. Resources on Oklahoma Alcohol Laws

IV. Advice about Drinking Laws Oklahoma

Oklahoma alcohol laws can be hard to understand. The same is true in other states. The laws change. Courts change their interpretation. Laws often conflict. Lawyers spend years in law school. So do not rely on this site. Nor on any other site.

Nor on friends, family. co-workers, etc. Listen to their ideas. Smile, and thank them. Then ignore what they say. It’s worth what you paid for it. That is, not a whole lot.

Get advice about Oklahoma alcohol laws from an expert. That is a lawyer who holds a license in the state. Trust no other. Laws vary widely across the state. So it’s a good idea to select one in your county.

oklahoma alcohol laws
The state has three alcohol enforcement districts which the dark lines indicate.

 

So now you know more about Oklahoma alcohol laws than do most residents of the state. Also, do you think any other items should be added to this page? If so, email hansondj [at sign] potsdam [dot] edu/.  And thank you!