Liquor laws concern the possession, consumption, and serving of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and spirits), as well as their commercial sale. Every state has its own liquor laws, and the laws typically break down into the three primary categories: consumption (including possession); sale; and the serving of alcohol. Regardless of the type of liquor law you are alleged to have broken, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer sooner rather than later.
Laws Related to the Consumption of Alcohol
The state of Minnesota’s liquor laws are unique in several ways, compared to other states. The Minnesota laws that relate to the consumption of alcohol include the following:
● Underage drinking – In Minnesota, as in every other state, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume, purchase, or attempt to purchase alcohol.
● Driving while intoxicated – Driving while intoxicated, commonly known by its abbreviation of DWI and sometimes referred to a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), is defined in Minnesota as either driving, being in physical control of, or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The legal limit of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Minnesota – and in every other state – is 0.08 percent. One’s BAC is typically measured by either a breath or blood test.
● Open containers in a vehicle – In Minnesota, it is illegal to consume or possess an open container of any alcoholic beverage in a vehicle that is on a public road, regardless of whether the driver is sober or under the influence of alcohol.
● Public consumption – While there is no statewide ban regarding the public consumption of alcohol in Minnesota, most, if not all, districts in the state have a ban of some form in place.
Each of these laws applies to the actual consumption of alcohol or having alcohol available to consume.
Laws Related to the Sale of Alcohol
Minnesota’s laws that relate to the sale of alcohol are very specific and somewhat unique, including:
● Minnesota is not an alcohol control state, meaning it is not one of the 17 states in the nation in which the state itself has a monopoly on the retail (or wholesale) sale of a portion of or all alcoholic beverages.
● The legal hours of sale for on-site alcoholic beverages are from 8 AM to 2 AM, seven days a week.
● The legal hours for off-site alcohol sales are from 8 AM to 10 PM from Monday to Saturday, and from 11 AM to 6 PM on Sunday. Off-premises sales on Sunday did not become legal until July of 2017.
● Unique to Minnesota, grocery stores may only sell 3.2 percent beer (and may not sell wine or spirits) on any given day. 3.2 percent beer, colloquially known as “near beer,” is beer that contains a low percentage of alcohol.
Minnesota is more restrictive in relation to the sale of alcohol than are many other states.
Laws Related to Serving Alcohol
Minnesota also has highly specific laws related to the serving of alcohol, which include:
● Although young people must be 21 years of age to purchase or consume alcohol, they can serve alcohol in the hospitality industry from the age of 18. Further, those who are at least 16 years old can serve in those establishments where 3.2 beer is incidental to the primary food service (some pizzerias, for example).
● In Minnesota, children of any age may drink in their parent or guardian’s home if the parent or guardian is present (a teen can have a glass of wine at the dinner table with his or her parents, for example).
● Minnesota laws are very strict regarding bars that over-serve alcohol to customers, serve alcohol to minors, or operate outside the hours of legal operation. The laws related to the sale of liquor in bars are known as dram shop laws, and they include other exacting limitations.
Discuss Your Charges with an Experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Minnesota takes its liquor laws very seriously, and you should too. If you are facing a charge related to a liquor law, the formidable criminal defense attorneys at Gerald Miller in Minneapolis have considerable experience helping clients like you successfully navigate the legal process and obtain favorable charge resolutions. Our dedicated legal team is poised to help, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 612.440.3212 today.