West Virginia Alcohol Laws: Do You Know Them?

West Virginia alcohol laws apply to its residents. But they also apply to visitors. Alcohol laws vary from state to state.They also vary within a state. It’s wise to know a state’s alcohol laws.

I. Minimum Age Laws

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

Young people often want part-time jobs. Hospitality offers many jobs young people can do. Many involve alcohol. How old must one be to serve alcohol? To tend bar? To sell alcohol for drinking off-site?

West Virginia alcohol laws are simple in this regard. They permit adults of any age to be alcohol servers. To be bartenders. And to be sellers of alcohol for off-site consumption. That is, anyone 18 or older may work at those jobs.

A minor age 16 or 17 may also work in licensed establishments. However, they may not sell or deliver alcohol or non-intoxicating beer.

A licensee is someone licensed to sell alcohol. Licensees may not allow anyone under 21 to be in a licensed establishment. However, those under 18 may be in licensed establishments under one of three conditions.

One is when employed there. A second is when with the parent. The third is when making a non-alcohol purchase.maryland alcohol laws

Persons of any age under 21 may drink alcohol. But relatives by blood or marriage must provide it and be present when they drink it.

It is a crime to use a false ID to buy alcohol. However, adults 18 to 21 can purchase alcohol to help law enforcement entrap clerks.

It is also illegal for those under 21 to drive with a BAC over 0.02.

II. Alcohol Violations

Selling Alcohol

It’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. A violation is punishable with a fine up to $5,000 and/or 30 days to one year imprisonment.

Private clubs may sell alcohol 7 a.m. until 3:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Sales may resume at 1 p.m. on Sunday

Taverns may sell alcohol Monday through Saturday 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. On Sunday they may sell from 1 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Liquor stores (consumption off-premises) may sell 8 a.m. until midnight Monday through Saturday. They may not sell on Sunday.

Beer and wine for consumption off-premises may be sold 7 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday sales are 1 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.

Purchasing Alcohol

west virginia alcohol lawsIt’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, or attempt to buy, alcohol.

The penalty is a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 72 hours in jail. For a first offense, the court can order up to one year of probation instead of jail time. The penalty for illegal possession of alcohol is the same.

The punishment for using false ID is a fine of up to $100 and/or up to three days in jail. The court can order up to a year of probation instead of jail time for a first offense.

The penalty for provides alcohol to anyone under age 21 is stiff. It’s 30 days to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. For providing non-intoxicating beer to such a person, the penalty is less. It’s a fine of up to $100 and/or up to 10 days in jail.


west virginia alcohol lawsIt’s a violation of West Virginia alcohol laws to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. For those under 21, it’s a BAC of 0.02. The intent is that drivers under 21 should have no alcohol in their system. However, the limit is set at 0.02 for several reasons.

One is that breathalyzers lack high precision. Another is that everyone constantly produces alcohol naturally. It’s endogenous ethanol production. A third reason is that many medications, food, and juices contain alcohol.

The penalty for a first offense of driving under the influence (DUI) is drivers license suspension for six months. For a second or third offense, it’s a suspension of one year. A fourth conviction is a felony.

For any DUI conviction, judges can mandate installation of an ignition interlock system on the offender’s vehicle. This device prevents the engine from starting if there is blood in the driver’s breath. Installation is at the expense of the offender. Judges are also able to require an alcohol education course, assessment, or treatment.

The state does not provide additional penalties for drivers whose BACs are substantially higher than 0.08. Vehicle confiscation for DUI is not a penalty option.

West Virginia alcohol laws prohibit a driver or passenger from consuming alcohol. However, open containers can legally be carried in the passenger area of a vehicle.

The state wants drivers to submit to a BAC test if law enforcement requests it. However, all drivers have a U.S. Constitutional right to decline. But if they choose to use that right the state punishes them. It mandates suspension of the driver’s license for up to one year.

But this does not apply to field sobriety tests. West Virginia laws permit drivers to refuse a field sobriety test without penalty. The tests are highly subjective and unreliable. Indeed, about one-third of people with 0.00 BAC fail the tests.

Lawyers recommend strongly the people not take the tests. They say to politely but firmly refuse. Learn more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.


west virginia alcohol lawsIt ’s illegal to operate any motorized boat or personal watercraft under the influence. That includes alcohol and/or drugs.

A BAC of 0.08 or higher is illegal. The penalty for a first offense is jail for 24 hours to six months. It also includes a fine of $100 to $500. Subsequent convictions lead to higher penalties.

III. Resources on West Virginia Alcohol Laws

IV. Seek Good Advice about West Virginia Alcohol Laws

West Virginia alcohol laws can be hard to understand. Especially when there is a lack of clarity of even conflict. It takes years of legal training to master the subject.

Don’t rely on this site. Or on any other site. And beware. Friends may give opinions. Colleagues may give beliefs. Neighbors may give stories. Kin may give advice. Smile and thank them. Then ignore them.

west virginia alcohol lawsGet information and advice about West Virginia alcohol laws from an expert. That’s a lawyer holding a license in the state.
Alcohol attitudes and legal enforcement practices vary by locale. Therefore, it makes good sense to select a lawyer very familiar with the locale in question. Better safe than sorry.

Of course, the best advice is to drink in moderation and never drink and drive.