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New York Alcohol Laws

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Spirits can be purchased in retail stores, while beer and cooking wine are available in grocery and convenience stores. Off-premises stores – which hold a license restricted to no alcohol being consumed on the premises – can sell alcohol from 9 a.m. until midnight Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Selling alcohol before noon on Sunday is prohibited. Bars and restaurants may serve alcohol from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Beer, however, may be sold at any time except 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Sunday. Specific restrictions may vary between counties.

Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol

You must be 21 years of age to consume alcohol. At age 18, however, a person may work as a bartender, serve alcohol in a restaurant, and work in a liquor store if supervised by someone over 21.

Open Container Laws

Neither the driver nor passengers may drink in a vehicle, so previously opened containers of alcohol should be transported in the trunk of the car.

BAC Limits

The legal maximum blood-alcohol content (BAC) in New York is .08 percent. Violation of this limit means that the driver is ‘per se intoxicated’ and can be charged with DUI (driving under the influence) with no other proof needing to be provided.

A driver with a BAC of .18 percent over the legal maximum limit of .08 percent is subject to harsher punishment.

Drivers under 21 with a .02 percent BAC or higher can be charged with DUI under ‘zero tolerance laws.’


‘Implied consent laws’ bind a driver to cooperating with law enforcement requests to permit breath, blood, or urine testing for BAC. Mandatory suspension of a driver’s license for up to a year is the penalty for refusing.

The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) in New York mandates driver’s license suspension for 90 days for the first DUI conviction and six months for the second and third convictions.

Free Online DUI Case EvaluationWith a second DUI conviction, there is the possibility of vehicle confiscation. An ignition interlock device, which attaches to the convicted DUI offender’s vehicle and requires the driver to perform a breath-test before the vehicle will start, is a punishment possibility. Mandatory a lcohol education or treatment for alcohol abuse can be required for those convicted of DUI.

DUI is considered a felony after the first conviction.