Vermont Alcohol Laws Deny Religious Freedom?

Vermont alcohol laws apply to both residents and and its many visitors. Don’t assume that Vermont laws are the same as those in another state. That could be a very bad mistake.

I. Minimum Age Requirements


I.   Minimum Age Requirements
II.  Alcohol Violations
III. Resources
IV.  Seek Good Advice

Vermont is a popular destination in the summer, fall and winter. Thus, there are many jobs in the hospitality industry. Young people who would like to work in it need to know the age necessary to do so.

Many of the jobs involve alcohol. What are the ages needed to work as a server of alcohol in a restaurant? For working as a bartender? For working  in a store selling alcohol for drinking off-site?

Vermont alcohol laws permit adults to serve alcohol as well as to tend bar. That is, persons 18 years of age or older may hold those jobs.

The laws permit persons 16 or older to sell alcohol for off-premises drinking. The laws are silent regarding selling spirits. Vermont has a government monopoly over such sales. It sets the age of its employees. Thus, the age can change at any time.

Vermont prohibits the consumption of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21. It makes no exceptions for health or any other reason.

vermont alcohol lawsThis means that consuming sacramental wine or Seder wine are both illegal. Many priests and Jewish parents who are needlessly criminalized. Thus, the right of religious freedom seems to be denied in Vermont.

Use of a false ID to buy alcohol is a criminal offense. And driving with a BAC over 0.02 is illegal for anyone under age 21.

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

Vermont is an alcohol monopoly state for the sale of distilled spirits. Spirits are vodka, rum, tequila, gin, bourbon, scotch, etc. Grocery and convenience stores may sell beer under 8% and wine under 16% alcohol.

Stores selling alcohol for consumption off-premises may do so from 6 a.m. to midnight. Those hours are seven days per week. Restaurants and bars may serve alcohol from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. all week. However, towns may restrict days and hours of alcohol sales.

It’s a violation of Vermont alcohol laws to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. The penalty is a fine of up to $2000 and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

However, if the young buyer then causes serious injury or death in a crash, the penalty increases. It becomes a felony (crime) with a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to five years.

Vermont’s alcohol laws also hold sellers responsible for illegally selling alcohol. The “dram shop law” permits those who are injured by an illegal sale to sue the seller for money. Sellers are at risk if they sell to either an underage or intoxicated person person.

Buying Alcohol

Those 16-20 who buy, or try to buy, alcohol must complete a Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program. If they to do so, the penalty is a $300 fine and 90-day license suspension.

vermont alcohol lawsFor a second offense, or if they are under 16, the penalties are higher. The fine is up to $600, up to 30 days imprisonment, and 120 days license suspension. These same penalties apply to the illegal possession of alcohol.

The penalty for destroying the label on a keg is a fine up to $1,000. The imprisonment is up to two years.

The license suspension for underage possession or consumption is only imposed for failure to successfully complete a diversion program.

Driving and Alcohol

vermont alcohol lawsUnder Vermont alcohol laws, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For drivers under age 21, it’s 0.02. And for commercial drivers it’s 0.04.

The penalties for DUI vary by the circumstances, such as age, prior DUIs, and the judge who hears the case.

First DUI
  • Imprisonment for up to two years.
  • Fines and penalties up to $750.
  • License suspension for 90 days.
  • Successful completion of alcohol and driving education program at offender’s expense.
Second DUI
  • vermont alcohol lawsImprisonment for up to two years.
  • Fines and penalties up to $1,500.
  • License suspension for 18 months.
  • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  • Mandated alcohol or drug screening.
  • Successful completion of therapy program at offender’s expense.
  • Possible community service of 200 hours.
Third DUI
  • vermont alcohol lawsImprisonment for up to five years.
  • Fines and penalties up to $2,500.
  • License revocation may be for life.
  • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  • Community service of at least 400 hours possible.
Driver Rights

vermont alcohol lawsAll drivers have a U.S. Constitution right to decline submitting to a chemical test. However, the state punishes those who use their right to do so. The first use of the right triggers a license suspension of six months. Use of the right on another occasion is penalized with a suspension of 18 months. A third use leads to a revocation for life.

However, there is no legal penalty for not submitting to a field sobriety test. These tests are notoriously subjective and highly inaccurate. Amazingly, about one-third of completely sober people fail them. That is, about one in three people with zero BAC (0.00%) don’t pass field sobriety tests.

vermont alcohol lawsLawyers strongly urge drivers never to take them. They say to politely but repeatedly refuse to submit. Officers use clever tactics to get drivers to take them. Many falsely insist the law requires it. No. The law does not require it. They may say that drivers can show their innocence by passing the test. But officers don’t consider passing the test as proof of sobriety. From their view, it’s a case of “heads I win, tails you loose.”

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

Boating and Alcohol

vermont alcohol lawsVermont alcohol laws prohibit anyone boating while intoxicated (BWI) from alcohol and/or drugs.

Boaters are intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08% or higher. For those under age 21, it’s 0.02% or higher. Or if boaters are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs a degree they can’t operate safely.

Age 21 or Older

The penalties for a first BWI are a boating license suspension for up to one year. A fine of up to $750. And a mandated successful completion of an alcohol program at the offender’s expense. Any later conviction increases the fine up to $1,000.

If a BWI results in a death, the penalties are increased. They’re imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine up to $2,000. However, no BWI prevents operating a non-motorized canoe or rowboat.

Age Under 21

For a first BWI, the boating license is suspended for at least six months. In addition is the required successful completion of an alcohol program at the offender’s expense. Any later BWI increase the suspension for one year or until age 21, whichever is longer. Again, no BWI prevents operating a non-motorized canoe or rowboat.

Boaters who use their right not to submit to a chemical test receive the same penalties as BWI.

III. Resources on Vermont  Alcohol Laws  Vermont alcohol laws


IV. Seek Good Advice and Information

Vermont’s alcohol laws can be confusing. They are in any state. That’s why lawyers spend years learning law. Do not rely on this or any other website for any purpose. And don’t rely on family members. They’re happy to give advice. Neighbors may offer their opinions. Co-workers may toss in their beliefs. Smile and thank them. Then ignore what they say.

vermont alcohol lawsFor information or advice about Vermont alcohol laws, seek help from an expert. That’s an experienced lawyer holding a license in the state.

Alcohol attitudes and practices vary across Vermont. So it’s a good idea to select one in your locale.