Welcome to Las Vegas—a vacationer’s paradise where exciting gambling opportunities and excellent cocktails abound. If you’ve come to Las Vegas specifically to enjoy delicious drinks on the Strip, you already know basic, obvious alcohol laws and safety tips, like not drinking and driving.
But did you know liquor laws can vary between states? For instance, the legal blood-alcohol driving level in Utah is only .05%, as opposed to the .08% accepted in other states. If you don’t familiarize yourself with a state’s liquor laws before you visit, you could find yourself behind bars for the night without knowing exactly what you did wrong.
Keep reading to learn more about Nevada’s alcohol laws, including those unique to Las Vegas, and how to stay out of jail during your night on the town.
You Can Drink Publicly
If you’ve read our previous blogs, you already know you’re legally allowed to drink from open containers while you’re on the Strip and elsewhere in Las Vegas proper.
However, this law has some key limitations:
- You may only drink from an open container in public if you purchased the alcohol in an open container. For instance, if you purchase a beer and have it served to you in a solo cup, you can drink directly from the cup in public.
- You cannot consume liquor purchased in a closed container on the liquor store’s premises—or even within 1,000 feet of the liquor store.
Nevada alcohol laws also regulate the types of containers you can drink from publicly; to the chagrin of tree-huggers everywhere, glass and aluminum containers are strictly prohibited.
The law’s goal is both to cut down on litter and prevent people (especially intoxicated people) from using glass bottles as weapons. This ban hasn’t been in effect long: glass and aluminum were already illegal on the Strip during New Year’s Eve, but a law passed in September of 2014 extended the ban year-round. If you’re going to drink publicly in Vegas, you’ll have to do so from a plastic container.
Bear in mind that other Nevada cities don’t have the same open container laws as Las Vegas. If you plan to visit a city outside of Las Vegas proper, read up on local ordinances first.
You Can Be Intoxicated in Public
In most states, including the states that border Nevada, public intoxication is a misdemeanor. However, in Nevada, the law actually states the opposite: the state may not pass any laws prohibiting public intoxication.
However, just because public intoxication is legal doesn’t mean you should indulge. You can still get arrested, ticketed and fined for crimes like disturbing the peace. Additionally, alcohol can lower your hand-eye coordination, judgment and inhibitions. If you do decide to drink publicly in Las Vegas, stay with a close group of friends, stay on the sidewalks and stay safe. Most importantly, never drink and drive.
You Cannot Drive With an Open Container
While drinking publicly is legal, driving with an opening container anywhere inside your car is not. Doing so could land you with a ticket, a DUI charge and a night in the county jail. Avoid a vacation-ruining stay in jail—require your friends to toss their drinks before they get in your car.
Similarly, make sure you also follow basic sober driving guidelines. Have a designated driver or call a taxi. If you’ve already had a drink, don’t get behind the wheel without waiting several hours and drinking plenty of water. The legal blood-alcohol content in Nevada is the typical .08%, so make sure you’re well below that—preferably at zero—before you drive.
You’re Liable for Your Own Actions
In most states, dram shop laws make liquor stores and other alcohol providers partially responsible for the actions of their drunk patrons. For instance, if you strike a pedestrian while driving drunk, the victim could sue both you and the owners of the establishment that allowed you to drink and drive.
Unlike nearly every other state, though, Nevada doesn’t have any dram shop laws. If you drink and drive, the full blame is placed on you—not on the store, casino, or bar that let you walk out the door, even if you were clearly drunk and they continued to serve you.
In fact, dram shop laws only apply in Nevada when a minor is involved. If a bar serves alcohol to a minor and the minor then causes an accident, the bar could be held partially liable by the third party. Otherwise, you’re on your own in court.
In Trouble? Call Your Bail Bondsman
Now that you know Nevada’s liquor laws, you have all the information you need to enjoy your weekend getaway to Las Vegas.
However, if an accident happens in spite of your best efforts, you have legal recourse. Whether you were unaware of Nevada’s liquor laws or simply found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, call All Star Bail Bonds any time. We’ll get you out of jail and back on your feet in no time.