Did you know that bars are illegal in Virginia?
Or that using a fake ID is a Class 1 Misdemeanor?
Or that you can get a DUI while driving a jet ski?
So many rules! In this blog post, we break down what you need to know about alcohol laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia, including what time you can buy alcohol in VA.
INTRODUCTION TO VA ALCOHOL LAWS
Let’s get started with some of the basics:
- What is the minimum age to buy or even possess an alcoholic beverage? 21
PENALTY FOR POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL UNDER 21: $500-$2,550 in fines, up to 50 hours of community service, and/or up to 1 year in jail.
LEARN MORE: To read more on underage drinking laws, please see Cook Attorneys’ blog post on the subject.
- What are the rules for selling alcohol?
- If you are selling alcohol in a restaurant, that is okay. Bars are illegal; there are minimum food sales requirements that distinguish restaurants from establishments that serve only alcohol.
- You may sell only wine and beer at a restaurant or store.
- If you want to sell alcoholic beverages, you must work in a store owned by the Commonwealth government.
- You may not serve alcoholic beverages in “novel or unusual containers,” though the statute does not specify what that means.
- You may not sell alcohol to anyone under 21.
EXCEPTIONS: If you are a parent or spouse over 21, and you provide alcohol to your child or spouse under 21, you are not breaking the law.
PENALTY FOR SELLING OR PROVIDING ALCOHOL TO UNDERAGE INDIVIDUAL: up to $2,550 in fines and/or up to 1 year in jail.
BUYING ALCOHOL IN VIRGINIA
If you are 21 or older, you can purchase alcohol in Virginia. If you are at a restaurant that serves wine and beer, you can order it there. Or you can purchase it in a state-owned and operated liquor store.
You may only drink alcohol on private property. Drinking alcohol on public property, such as sidewalks and streets, parking lots, and parks is illegal.
Ineligible people do try to get away with buying alcohol by using fake IDs, but there are penalties if you get caught by the police.
PENALTY FOR USING A FAKE ID: $500-$2,550 in fines, up to 50 hours community service, and/or up to 1 year in jail. You may also get your driver’s license suspended for 6 months and/or have to do alcohol abuse education, counseling, or treatment—which you must pay for.
SELLING ALCOHOL IN VIRGINIA
To serve or sell alcohol, you must get a Virginia liquor license from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Authority (ABC). This applies to stores or restaurants that want to sell alcohol as well as to weddings and private events that want to serve alcohol for a limited time.
If you have the proper permits, you may sell alcohol during the Virginia alcohol hours:
- at stores from 7 am to 2 pm every day of the week.
- at restaurants, clubs that sell food and drink, and retail locations from 6 am to midnight every day of the week.
Legally, you may only sell or serve beer and/or wine in Virginia. Any other distilled spirits must be sold through ABC-controlled liquor stores.
USE OF ALCOHOL WHILE DRIVING IN VIRGINIA
You should never consume alcohol and then drive immediately afterward. If you are caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher, you could face a DUI/DWI charge.
PENALTY FOR DUI: Up to $2,500 in fines and/or up to 1 year in jail for the first offense. You may also get your license suspended for up to 12 months and/or have to do alcohol abuse education, counseling, or treatment—which you must pay for.
PENALTY FOR UNDERAGE DUI: If you are under 21 and have a BAC of .02% or higher while driving, you will lose your license for a year. The judge will decide if you should also pay a fee of $500 or do 50 hours of community service.
LEARN MORE: To read more on DUI/DWI in Virginia, please see Cook Attorney’s blog post on the subject.
USE OF ALCOHOL WHILE BOATING IN VIRGINIA
Drinking and boating is just as bad of an idea as drinking and driving. DUI/DWI laws apply just as equally. You can get a DUI/DWI charge if you are operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher.
Cook Attorneys can help if you are facing DUI/DWI charges or if you need help navigating an alcohol-related charge.
We have extensive defense experience with these kinds of cases, and we would love to talk to you about the details of yours.
Schedule a free consultation by filling out the form below or by messaging us. We look forward to talking with you!