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5 Important Montana Liquor Laws To Know

Posted on April 21st, 2017

If you’re fined or arrested for breaking Montana liquor laws, it won’t matter if you’re a resident or tourist. The laws apply to everyone. This article reviews the regulations so you can relax in The Treasure State. Ready to learn more? Let’s get into it.

Learn Montana Liquor Laws

Whether you plan to visit or move to Montana, study the laws. Montana may be different than your home state. If you’re a resident, know the rules. Here are five important things you should know.

1. Minimum Age

No one under 21 years old can buy alcohol. An attempt to buy alcohol with a fake ID is a criminal act. In fact, it’s illegal for anyone to buy, sell, lend or make fake IDs. It is legal for someone under 21 to drink alcoholic beverages if provided by a parent or guardian. The liquor must be served and consumed at a private location, for example, at a closed party. The location can’t be a business that sells alcohol. While it’s legal to drink in certain situations, it can’t lead to intoxication. Someone is intoxicated if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is greater than 0.05. It’s illegal to drive with a BAC greater than 0.02. Montana laws allow young adults to work as servers in places that sell alcohol consumed on site. People over 18 years old can be bartenders. They also can sell alcohol intended for consumption somewhere else.

2. Selling Alcohol

All Montana liquor stores are state-owned. Most stores are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some stores keep longer hours. All state stores are closed on Sunday. Bars with package licenses can sell distilled spirits like vodka, rum, whiskey, etc. Grocery and convenience stores sell beer and wine from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Restaurants sell alcohol from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Montana breweries serve samples to customers from 10:00 am to 8:00 p.m. They can provide 48 ounces per client. No retailer can sell alcohol between 2:00 a.m. and 8 a.m. It’s a violation of Montana laws to sell alcohol to anyone under 21. Period. A first offense results in a $500 fine and the possibility of imprisonment for up to six months. A second offense fine is $1,000 with potential incarceration for up to six months.” Additionally, it’s illegal to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated.

3. Buying Alcohol

People younger than 21 can only buy an alcoholic beverage with less than one half of one percent alcohol. Beyond that, Montana liquor laws are strict. It’s illegal for anyone under age 21 to buy an alcoholic beverage. In fact, it’s illegal to attempt to buy alcohol. There are serious consequences for minors in possession of alcohol. While people under 21 may enter a place that sells alcohol, the business is free to deny entry.

4. Driving While Intoxicated

Montana liquor laws prohibit driving while intoxicated. The state defines driving under the influence (DUI) on blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Below are the illegal levels of BAC:

  • 0.02% for drivers under 21
  • 0.04% for commercial drivers
  • 0.08% for other drivers

The penalties for a first DUI include a fine of $600 to $1,000, driver license suspension and imprisonment. Additional DUIs have heavier penalties. Young drivers, under age 21, have different penalties for DUI. A BAC of 0.08% or higher may result in an order to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their car. The IDD stops the vehicle from starting when the driver tests positive for alcohol.

5. Alcohol and Boating

Montana law forbids boating while intoxicated. This includes any water device like a motorboat, sailboat, water skis or surfboard. Drinking can cause balance and coordination problems, impaired judgment, and slow reaction time. These deficiencies often lead to boating accidents. Law enforcement looks for signs of boating under the influence. If a boater drives erratically or exhibits boisterous behaviors an officer will stop the boat.

Montana Liquor Laws

If you live in Montana, it’s important to be aware of Montana liquor laws. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about these laws.

Q1: What Are The Legal Drinking Age Requirements In Montana?

A1: The legal drinking age in Montana is 21. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or publicly possess alcoholic beverages.

Q2: Can I Purchase Alcohol On Sundays In Montana?

A2: Yes, you can purchase alcohol on Sundays in Montana. The state does not have any specific restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales.

Q3: Are There Limitations On The Hours During Which Alcohol Can Be Sold?

A3: Yes, there are restrictions on the hours during which alcohol can be sold. In Montana, alcohol sales are generally allowed from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., with some variations based on local ordinances.

Q4: Is It Legal To Have An Open Container Of Alcohol In A Vehicle?

A4: It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while it is in operation. Open containers must be stored in the trunk or a locked compartment.

Q5: Can I Bring My Own Bottle Of Wine To A Restaurant In Montana?

A5: Montana allows the practice of corkage, where patrons can bring their own bottle of wine to a restaurant. However, individual establishments may have their own policies, so it’s advisable to check with the restaurant beforehand.

Q6: Are There Any Dry Counties Or Municipalities In Montana?

A6: No, Montana does not have dry counties or municipalities where the sale of alcohol is completely prohibited. However, local jurisdictions may have their own regulations regarding the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.

Q7: Can I Order Alcohol Online In Montana?

A7: Yes, you can order alcohol online in Montana. However, it is essential to ensure compliance with state laws and regulations, and shipments may be subject to age verification upon delivery.

Q8: Are There Any Restrictions On The Types Of Alcohol That Can Be Sold?

A8: Montana has a diverse selection of alcoholic beverages available for sale, including beer, wine, and spirits. However, the sale and distribution of certain high-proof spirits may be subject to specific regulations.

Q9: Can I Host Private Events With Alcohol Without A License?

A9: Private events where alcohol is served without charge and not for profit generally do not require a license. However, it is recommended to verify with local authorities to ensure compliance with any specific regulations in place.

Q10: What Are The Penalties For Violating Montana Liquor Laws?

A10: Penalties for violating Montana liquor laws can vary depending on the nature and severity of the offense. Common consequences include fines, suspension or revocation of licenses, and, in more serious cases, criminal charges.

Q11: Can I Obtain A Liquor License In Montana, And How Do I Apply For One?

A11: Yes, you can obtain a liquor license in Montana. The Montana Department of Revenue oversees the licensing process, and applicants must meet certain criteria. The application process typically involves background checks, fees, and adherence to specific regulations.

It’s important to note that Montana liquor laws and regulations may be subject to change. If you have additional questions, the legal professionals at Silverman Law Office, PLLC are here to help.

Get Advice From A Lawyer

Silverman Law Office, PLLC specializes in liquor law. We help clients make informed decisions about their specific legal needs. If you have questions about Montana liquor laws, contact us for a consultation.


Fill out the form below to get in touch with our legal team or call Bozeman office at (406) 582-8822 or our Helena office at (406) 449-4829 to talk to someone right away.

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