Virginia Alcohol Laws
Where to Buy Alcohol
State-owned package stores sell spirits in Virginia, with beer and wine available in grocery and convenience stores. Local ordinances prevail, but most state stores are closed on Sundays and are legally entitled to sell alcohol from 6 a.m. to midnight. Bars and other on-premises establishments may serve from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Legal Age for Drinking/Serving Alcohol
While you can be just 16 years old to work in a liquor store or transport alcohol, you must be 18 to serve alcohol in a restaurant and 21 for all other employment involving alcohol. You must be 21 to imbibe, as in all states.
Open Container Laws
In Virginia, it is acceptable for passengers in a vehicle to drink alcohol as long as the driver is not drinking or impaired.
A driver with chemical test results that are .08 percent or higher is considered ‘per se intoxicated.’ This means the state requires no further evidence to prosecute for DUI (driving under the influence).
A driver who has a BAC result that is .20 percent higher than the legal maximum limit of .08 percent faces more severe punishment by the courts.
Drivers under the age of 21 cannot have a BAC test result higher than .02 percent or they face DUI charges. ‘Zero tolerance laws’ are designed to strongly discourage drinking and driving.
Laws requiring a driver who is suspected of DUI to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) for intoxication are called ‘implied consent laws.’ Refusal to submit to such tests carries a penalty of up to one year’s suspension of the driver’s license.
Suspension of a driver’s license by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) is one year for the first DUI conviction and three years for the second and third convictions.
Vehicle confiscation for DUI conviction is a possibility in Virginia, usually for repeat offenders. This penalty incurs significant expenses for the driver.
An ignition interlock device attaches to the convicted DUI offender’s vehicle and requires the driver to perform a breath-test before the vehicle will start. This expensive penalty is an option in Virginia.
Education, treatment, or assessment for alcohol abuse can be required for those convicted of DUI.
DUI is considered a felony after the third conviction.