This page will help you understand West Virginia alcohol laws. And to avoid expensive fines or even jail. Not to mention time and embarrassment.
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.
- Minimum Age Law
- Other Alcohol Laws
- Get Legal Advice
I. Minimum Age Laws
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. But they may not sell or deliver alcohol or non-intoxicating beer. That’s so-called “near beer.”
A licensee is someone who has a license to sell alcohol. Licensees may not allow anyone under 21 to be in a licensed establishment. But those under 18 may be in licensed venue 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.
It is a crime to use a false ID to buy alcohol. But adults 18 to 21 can purchase alcohol to help law police entrap clerks.
It is also illegal for those under 21 to drive with a BAC over 0.02.
II. Other West Virginia Alcohol Laws
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 jail.
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 (use off-site) may sell 8 a.m. until midnight Monday through Saturday. But they may not sell on Sunday.
Sale of beer and wine for use off-site is legal from 7 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday sales are 1 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.
It’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 penalty for providing 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.
It’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 0.02% for several reasons.
One is that breath testers lack precision. Another is that everyone produces alcohol in their bodies 24/7. A third reason is that many medications, food, and juices contain alcohol.
Thus, these states reduce the chances of unfairly convicting innocent people.
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 higher than 0.08.
West Virginia alcohol laws prohibit a driver or passenger from consuming alcohol. However, open containers can legally be in the passenger area of a vehicle.
The state wants drivers to submit to a BAC test if an officer requests it. On the other hand, 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.
Field Sobriety Tests
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 unreliable. Indeed, about one-third of people with 0.00% BAC fail them.
Yet police love them. They often say the law requires that they take them. In fact, no state in the country does. While investigating, police may legally lie. So don’t be a sucker for it.
Lawyers recommend strongly the people not take the tests. They say to politely but firmly refuse. And to do so as often as necessary.
Learn much more at Never Take a Field Sobriety Test Say DUI Lawyers.
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. Later convictions lead to higher penalties.
III. Resources on West Virginia Alcohol Laws
You might be interested in these.
IV. Get Legal Advice
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. Nor 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 their advice. It’s worth what you paid for it. That is, nothing.
Alcohol laws and practices vary by locale. So it’s good to pick one 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.