What Time Can You Buy Alcohol in Texas?
Last updated Monday, October 16th, 2023
Learn the Important Legal Alcohol Sale Limits to Drink Responsibly
You need a healthy sense of discrimination to be a law-abiding citizen. But it’s easy to end up on the wrong side of the law when your judgment is impaired by alcohol. Alcohol impairs your physical and cognitive skills, which can turn you into a walking hazard for others. Nearly 31 percent of car accident fatalities are caused by drunk drivers.
Texas has had a long, complex history regulating the sale of alcohol. It’s important to set clear legal limits for alcohol consumption to prevent recklessness. The blood alcohol content (BAC) is one way to monitor and deter irresponsible alcohol consumption.
However, most of the time it’s already too late by the time you test someone’s BAC levels.
Setting legal time limits for alcohol sales is a proactive way to deal with this issue. There are varying time limits for purchasing alcohol on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It’s important for both Texas residents and visitors to understand these laws to drink responsibly.
Understanding Texas’ Alcohol Sale Hours
The Texas blue law was introduced in 1961 to uphold the social and religious well-being of communities. It prohibited the sale of 42 specific items on consecutive weekend days. Most of these restrictions were repealed in 1985.
However, the restriction on alcohol sales still persisted. Any establishment that serves or sells alcohol is subject to unique time limits to promote responsible alcohol consumption.
Here are the varying legal time limits for different establishments:
- Bars and restaurants – These establishments operate with an on-premises license to serve alcohol. They can sell alcohol from 7 a.m. to midnight from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, they can sell from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Sunday morning). And they can serve alcohol from noon to midnight. They can even sell from 10 a.m. to noon as long as the customer is served food along with their alcoholic beverages.
- Supermarkets or grocery stores – These establishments have an off-premises beer/wine permit. You can purchase alcohol from 7 a.m. to midnight from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, you can buy it from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Sunday morning). And on Sundays, you can get it from 10 a.m. to midnight.
- Liquor store (known as package store) – These establishments are licensed to sell alcohol between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. They are closed on Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. If Christmas or New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, they will have to remain closed on the following Monday.
- Sports venue – Venues that host live sporting events are also subjected to certain alcohol sales restrictions. In addition to any other period when the sale of alcohol is authorized, a licensed or permitted premises located in a sports venue may sell alcoholic beverages between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
- Festival, fair, or concert – Venues hosting festivals, fairs, or concerts cater to people of all ages and have to follow strict restrictions for selling alcohol. In addition to any other period when the sale of alcohol is authorized, a licensed or permitted premises located at a festival, fair or concernt may sell alcoholic beverages between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
- Winery – You can get alcohol from Monday to Saturday between 8 a.m. to midnight. On Sundays, you can purchase it between 10 a.m. to midnight.
Additional Regulations by Counties and Cities
Texas has established statewide alcohol laws, but it also allows counties and cities to define some rules related to the types of alcohol sales. Texas has 59 wet counties and four dry counties.
The citizens of each county can conduct local option elections to make any amendments to these rules. You can check the updated policies of each Texas country on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission website.
Here are some varying cutoff times in different regions:
- For a city or county with a population over 800,000 – a mixed beverage permit holder with a retailer late hours certificate can sell mixed beverages until 2 a.m. on any night of the week.
- For unincorporated areas of the county – extended hours are implemented by the commissioners’ court order.
- For incorporated areas of the city or town – extended hours are implemented by an ordinance of the local governing body.
Legal Drinking Age and Consequences
Underage drinking is a serious problem in Texas. It ranks in the top 10 list of states with the highest underage drunk driving cases. Shockingly, nearly 20 percent of Texas high school students admitted that they’ve gotten behind the wheel after drinking. Most of them begin drinking as early as 14 years old. Alcohol consumption is so normalized in high school culture that they don’t even acknowledge it as a criminal offense.
One wrong step is all it takes to hurt someone under the influence and ruin their own future. Science has clearly established that the brain reaches its full development by the age of 25. Exposing it to intoxicants can seriously impact its fundamental wiring processes. Minors are still actively developing their sense of discrimination throughout these years. And alcohol is well-known for impairing judgment. It pushes them to act on their impulses, especially when this behavior is celebrated in their social circles.
Parents and schools have an important role to play in educating their children about the risks involved. The underage drinking laws are meant to serve as deterrents. It’s unfortunate when promising young citizens have to be prosecuted for violating them.
Texas originally set the legal drinking limit at 18 years in 1971. It was brought up to 19 years in 1979 and revised again to 21 in 1984. However, individuals under the age of 21 can drink at home under adult supervision. They have to be present on the premises where the minor is drinking alcohol.
Even waiters or bartenders who serve alcohol must be at least 18 years old.
These limitations are meant to bring a certain level of supervision to the alcohol purchase and distribution process.
So what happens if a minor is caught drinking? First, let’s understand what qualifies as a violation of these laws. Any individual under the age of 21 caught purchasing alcohol, intoxicated in a public space, falsifying identity to buy it, or possessing alcohol can face Minor in Possession (MIP) charges.
MIP is a Class C misdemeanor with varying consequences depending on the number of offenses:
- For the first offense – A fine of up to $500, up to 40 hours of community service, mandatory enrolment in an alcohol awareness program, suspending driving privileges for 60 days, and ineligible for a Texas occupational license for 30 days.
- For the second offense – A fine of up to $500, up to 60 hours of community service, alcohol awareness classes, suspending driving privileges for up to 120 days, and ineligible for a Texas occupational license for 90 days.
- For the third offense – A third violation can make a minor ineligible for deferred adjudication. They can get their driving license suspended for up to 180 days, and become ineligible for a Texas occupational license throughout the suspension.
Minors over the age of 17 can face much harsher punishment. They can be fined up to $2,000, face a jail term of up to 180 days, and lose their driving license.
Where to Buy Beer in Texas
Texas is known for its thriving beer scene and Tex-Mex cuisine that both tourists and residents love.
Here are some of the most popular locations where you can purchase beer in Texas:
Bars and restaurants – These establishments are perfect spots for social drinkers. You can buy a beer by the bottle or on top, and choose from a variety of popular brews. They can only serve alcohol to customers who are 21 years or older. Bars and restaurants can also be held liable for drunk driving accidents by irresponsibly serving alcohol to their customers.
Grocery stores – You can find most of your favorite brews in Texas grocery stores and supermarkets. Regular drinkers often pick up a case of beer with several cans or bottles packed in them. People who enjoy letting loose in the comfort of their homes usually opt to purchase alcohol from these places.
Gas stations – Some gas stations in Texas have licenses to sell beer. This can be handy if you need a quick beer run while on the road. Just be sure to check their hours of operation, as they may not sell beer during certain times.
Package and liquor stores – These establishments offer the widest variety of beers, wines, whiskeys, and other liquors. You can find imported brands, craft beers, and other domestic options. You must be 21 years or older to get alcohol from liquor stores.
Breweries and taprooms – Beer enthusiasts who enjoy a more immersive experience of their favorite beverage often visit breweries and taprooms. Texas has several craft breweries that organize tastings and tours for visitors. You can buy straight from the source after sampling their products.
The Ins and Outs of Growlers and Unsealed Beer Containers
Texans love the ‘go big or go home’ approach. And guzzling down beers with your buddies from a growler is a great way to embody that spirit while drinking alcohol.
A growler is a big container used to store beer. It can be made from glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. You can find a variety of sizes, but the 64-ounce growler is the most common one. They have a convenient sealing mechanism to maintain the freshness and carbonation of the beer.
Craft beer enthusiasts love to bring them for house parties because they ensure the taste and aroma of the beer are preserved. You can also get eco-friendly growlers as an alternative to single-use packaging.
Now let’s explore the legal framework governing the purchase and filling of growlers. According to Texas state law, only restaurants and bars with mixed beverage permits are permitted to fill growlers. Texans can buy and refill their growlers from breweries. However, the beer sold to them must have an alcohol content below 15.5 percent by weight.
Growlers must be properly labeled. They must include the name and address of the brewery, the type and volume of beer, and health warnings. Ensure that your growler is sanitized before filling and refilling it.
All open containers in a motor vehicle are illegal in Texas. So ensure that the growlers are sealed while transporting them.
By understanding and following state regulations, consumers and breweries can enjoy their love for craft beer without any legal hiccups.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the standard alcohol sale hours in Texas?
There are unique legal time limits for different establishments that serve or sell alcohol:
- Bars and restaurants – 7 a.m. to midnight from Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays, and noon to midnight on Sundays.
- Supermarkets or grocery stores – 7 a.m. to midnight from Monday to Friday. from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.
- Liquor store – 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
- Sports venue – In addition to any other period when the sale of alcohol is authorized, a licensed or permitted premises located in a sports venue may sell alcoholic beverages between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
- Festival, fair, or concert – In addition to any other period when the sale of alcohol is authorized, a licensed or permitted premises located in a festival, fair, or concert may sell alcoholic beverages between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
- Winery –From Monday to Saturday between 8 a.m. to midnight. Between 10 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.
Are there any exceptions to these hours in specific counties?
Yes. There are four completely dry counties in Texas where no alcohol is sold.
How do local regulations affect alcohol sales in Texas?
Texas counties and cities have the right to conduct local option elections to change certain alcohol sale rules.
Here are some unique cutoff times in different regions:
- For a country with a population over 800,000 – establishments with a mixed beverage permit holder and retailer late hours certificate can sell alcohol until 2 a.m. throughout the week.
- For unincorporated parts of the county – the commissioners’ court order can extend alcohol sale hours
- For incorporated parts of the county – extended hours are implemented by an ordinance of the local governing body.
Can these regulations change frequently, and how can I stay updated?
Yes. Texas has several counties that frequently conduct local option elections to update these regulations. You can track any changes that are made on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission website.
What is the legal drinking age in Texas?
You must be at least 21 years old to buy, store, or consume alcohol in Texas.
However, there is an exception to this rule. If you’re below 21 years of age, you can consume alcohol if you’re supervised and permitted by an adult. However, they must be present on the premises while you’re consuming alcohol.
What are the penalties for underage drinking in the state?
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for Minor in Possession (MIP) charges.
You’re breaking underage drinking laws if you’re below 21 and get caught:
- Buying alcohol
- Intoxicated in a public space
- Falsifying identity to purchase alcohol
- Possessing alcohol
MIP is a Class C misdemeanor. It can have mild to severe consequences depending on the number of violations.
Here’s how you can get penalized for it:
- Paying a fine
- Community service
- Court-ordered alcohol awareness program
- Suspension of driving privileges
- Ineligibility for a Texas occupational license
Minors over the age of 17 can face harsher fines, lose their driver’s license, and jail time.
Where can I buy beer in Texas, and are there restrictions on the types of beer I can purchase?
Here are the most popular locations for buying beer in Texas:
- Bars and restaurants
- Grocery stores
- Gas stations
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
You can only purchase beer below a certain alcohol-by-volume (ABV) limit in grocery and convenience stores. They are limited to selling beer with an ABV of up to 5.0 percent. However, you can get a variety of beers with a higher ABV limit from liquor stores.
Are there specific hours during which I can buy beer from different types of establishments?
Yes. The TABC sets regulations for beer sale hours in different types of establishments. For instance, retail stores can sell it between 7 a.m. to midnight from Monday to Saturday. They can sell it from noon to midnight on Sundays.
Breweries can sell beer for on-premises consumption from 10 a.m. to midnight from Monday to Friday. They can sell it from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. of the following day on Saturdays, and noon to midnight on Sundays.
Bars and restaurants can serve beer from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m of the following day from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, they can serve it from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. of the following day.
What are growlers, and where can I buy and fill them in Texas?
Growlers are large containers used to store and transport draft beer while maintaining their freshness and aroma. You can purchase them and fill them in breweries, taprooms, specialty beer shops, and certain grocery stores.
Are there any restrictions on consuming beer from growlers in public places?
There are no statewide laws prohibiting alcohol consumption in public places in Texas. However, it’s illegal to do it in certain places like parks or places where there are local ordinances passed to prohibit it.