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.  More 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 off-site? 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-premises drinking. The laws are silent regarding selling spirits. Vermont has a government monopoly over such sales. Thus, it sets the age of its employees. Thus, the age is political and can change at any time.

Vermont prohibits the consumption of alcohol 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. 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. More Vermont Alcohol Laws

A. 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 jail for up to two years.

However, if the young buyer then causes serious injury or death in a crash, the penalty increases. In that case it becomes a felony (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 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. Additionally, 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 consumption 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 program. 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 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. A second use of the right is punished 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 highly subjective and inaccurate. Amazingly, 30% of completely sober people fail them under ideal conditions. That is, about one in three people with zero BAC (0.00%) don’t pass field sobriety tests.

vermont alcohol lawsFor that reason, lawyers strongly urge drivers never, ever to take them. They say to politely but repeatedly refuse to submit. However, doing so may take great willower.

That is because officers use clever tactics to get drivers to take them. Many falsely insist 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 burden of proof in on the state. That is, it is the state that must prove that the driver is guilty. On the contrary, drivers never need to prove their innocence. In addition, 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.”

Keep in mind a very important fact. That is, that while investigating, police may legally lie. So don’t be a sucker!

Discover much 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) 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. Specifically, prison 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 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 for one year or until age 21, whichever is longer. No BWI prevents operating a non-motorized canoe or rowboat.

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 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.

For information 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.