Mississippi Alcohol Laws
Where to Buy Alcohol
Private retail stores sell beer and table wine, while spirits and wine more than 14% alcohol content may only be sold in state-owned stores, known as ABC stores or package stores. Local ordinances prevail on the days and hours that alcohol may be sold.
Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol
As in other states, the legal drinking age is 21, and an individual must also be 21 to work as a bartender or to handle alcohol in a liquor store. However, it is legal to work in a restaurant selling alcohol at age 18.
Open Container Laws
In Mississippi, the driver and passengers in a vehicle are actually permitted to drink, but the driver may not be intoxicated beyond the legal blood-alcohol content level of .08 percent.
A driver is considered to be illegally under the influence of alcohol if his or her blood-alcohol content (BAC) level is more than .08 percent. In those circumstances, the driver is considered ‘per se intoxicated’ and can be arrested for DUI (driving under the influence). Mississippi does not have enhanced penalties for excessively high BAC levels, as do some states.
Any driver under the age of 21 can only test for a BAC level of .02 percent; otherwise, DUI penalties will be charged under ‘zero tolerance laws.’
Refusal to cooperate with an officer’s request to breath, blood, or urine testing for alcohol content falls under ‘implied consent laws’ and carries a penalty of mandatory suspension of the driver’s license for up to a year.
In Mississippi, the first DUI conviction results in mandatory license suspension by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for 90 days; for the second offense, two years; for the third offense, five years.
With the third DUI conviction, the courts have the option of temporarily or permanently confiscating the driver’s vehicle. This involves significant expense for the offender in the form of fines and administrative fees.
Attachment of an ignition interlock device is a possible punishment, as is mandatory alcohol education or treatment.
DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction.