Vermont Alcohol Laws Deny Religious Freedom? Learn Them Here

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


I.   Minimum Age Laws
II.  Other Vermont Alcohol Laws
III. Resources
IV. Get Legal Advice

I. Minimum Age Laws

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. But what are the ages needed to work as a server of alcohol in a restaurant? For working as a bartender? And for working  in a store selling alcohol for drinking elsewhere? People have questions. So we have answers.

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-site drinking. The laws are silent regarding selling distilled spirits (liquor). Vermont has a government monopo ly over spirits sales. Thus, it sets the age of its employees. Thus, the age is political and can change at any time.

Vermont prohibits the alcohol drinking by anyone under the age of 21. And it makes no exceptions for health or any other reason. Therefore doctors may not prescribe meds containing any alcohol. And many do. Similarly priests and ministers may not offer communion wine. Nor may parents offer wine for Seder.

So Vermont needlessly criminalizes many doctors, priests, ministers and Jewish parents. Thus, the US Constitutional First Amendment right of religious freedom seems to be denied in Vermont.

Use of a false ID to buy alcohol is a crime. And driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or over is illegal for anyone under age 21. Even for adults.

II. Other Vermont Alcohol Laws

A. Selling Alcohol

Vermont is a government monopoly state for the sale of distilled spirits. Grocery and convenience stores may sell beer under 8% and wine under 16% alcohol.

Stores selling alcohol for drinking elsewhere 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. But towns may restrict days and hours of alcohol sales. That’s through local option.

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 jail for up to two years.

But if an under-21 buyer then causes serious injury or death in a crash, the penalty increases. In that case it becomes a crime. And the punishment is a fine of up to $10,000 and/or prison for up to five years.

Vermont 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 also at risk if they sell to either an underage or intoxicated person.

B. Buying Alcohol

Those 16-20 who buy, or try to buy, alcohol must complete a Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program. And 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 jail, and 120 days license suspension. Also, 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. And also jail for up to two years.

The state only imposes the license suspension for underage possession or drinking for failure to complete a diversion program.

C. Driving and Alcohol

Under 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 facts, such as age, and prior DUIs. Of course, it also depends heavily on the judge.

      First DUI

    • Prison for up to two years.
    • Fines and penalties up to $750.
    • License suspension for 90 days.
    • Successful completion of alcohol and driving education program. Of course, that’s at the offender’s expense.

      Second DUI

    • Prison 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 pro gram. Again, at offender’s expense.
    • Possible community service of 200 hours. 

      Third DUI

    • Prison 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

All drivers have a U.S. Constitution right to decline a breath test. But the state punishes those who use their right.

The first use of the right triggers a license suspension of six months. A second use of the right is punished with a suspension of 18 months. A third use leads to a revocation for life.

Field Sobriety Tests

But there is no legal penalty for not submitting to a field sobriety test. These tests are highly subjective and not valid. At least 30% of completely sober people fail them. And that’s under ideal indoor conditions. under ideal conditions. So about one in three people with zero BAC (0.00%) don’t pass the tests.

vermont alcohol lawsLawyers strongly urge drivers never, ever to take them. They say to politely but repeatedly refuse to submit. But doing this may take great willower.

That’s because police use clever tactics to get drivers to take them. Many falsely say the law requires it. Not so. In fact, no state requires taking them.

They also may say that drivers can show their innocence by passing the test. But the backward. It is the state that must prove that the driver is guilty. Drivers never need to prove their innocence. And officers don’t even consider passing the test as proof of sobriety. From their view, it’s a case of “heads I win, tails you loose.”

While investigating, police can legally lie. So don’t fall for it.

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

D. Boating and Alcohol

Vermont alcohol lawsVermont alcohol laws prohibit anyone boating while intoxicated (BWI). That’s 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, to such a degree they can’t operate safely. Needless to say, that’s in the subjective opinion of the arresting officer.

   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 successful completion of an alcohol program. Of course, that’s at the offender’s expense. Any later conviction increases the fine up to $1,000.

The state increases the penalties if a BWI results in a death. That’s prison term for up to five years and/or a fine up to $2,000. But it’s not illegal to operating a non-motorized canoe or rowboa while intoxicated.

   Age Under 21

For a first BWI, the the state suspends the boating license for at least six months. In addition is the required successful completion of an alcohol program. Again, at the offender’s expense.

Any later BWI increase the suspension to one year or until age 21, whichever is longer.

In addition, boaters who use their right not to submit to a chemical test receive the same penalties as a BWI.

III. Resources on Vermont  Alcohol Lawsvermont alcohol laws

IV. Legal Advice: Vermont Alcohol Laws

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 site. Nor on 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. It’s worth what you payed for it. That is, nothing much. What’s worse, it could be wrong.

For facts or advice about Vermont alcohol laws, seek help from an expert. That is 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.