Whether you live in Delaware or are just visiting the First State, you will want to get a beer at some point. However, each of the 50 states has its own set of alcohol laws. You need to know what the beer laws look like in Delaware in 2023.
There is much you should know about the alcohol laws in Delaware. Learn about when and where you can get a brew as well as open container laws. There are plenty of other important laws.
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Is Delaware a dry state?
In order for a state to be considered dry, it needs to either prohibit or greatly restrict the sale of alcohol. There are no dry states in the US today.
Delaware is not a dry state. It does not prohibit the production or sale of alcohol. What restrictions the state does have are light enough to not be considered a dry state.
That said, some states give their local governments – usually counties or towns – the power to go dry.
Does Delaware have any dry counties?
Delaware is one of those states that give select counties the power to go dry.
There are no dry counties or towns in Delaware. The sale of alcohol is legal throughout the state.
Although Delaware is not a dry state, it does retain the power to manage access to alcohol.
When can you buy beer in Delaware?
Even a wet state can restrict when retailers may sell alcohol. Some states are very lax with these restrictions while others are rather strict. Delaware is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
You can buy a beer at off-premise retailers in Delaware from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday. On-premise retailers can sell alcohol between 9 a.m. and 1 a.m. Monday through Sunday.
The state of Delaware extends the legal hours of sale for off-premise retailers during the months of October, November, and December. During these months, off-premise retailers can open as early as 8 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Can you buy beer on Sunday in Delaware?
Several states have special restrictions for alcohol sales on Sunday. These laws – commonly motivated by religious beliefs – are often referred to as “blue laws.” Delaware does have any blue laws.
You can buy beer on Sunday in Delaware however the hours for off-premise retailers are reduced. These retailers can only open between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday. On-premise retailers are not affected.
Other special days are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Easter Day. Off-premise retailers may not open on these days. On-premise retailers may be open but are not required to be. On election days when the polls are open, no retailer may sell alcohol.
In addition to the above special circumstances, municipalities can make the required closing time earlier for both off and on-premise retailers based on a vote.
When do bars close in Delaware?
When you’re out at the bars in Delaware you need to know when they close. Each state has different requirements for closing times. Here’s when last call is in Delaware.
Bars in Delaware close at 1 a.m. This cut-off time may be earlier in some localities.
Some bars may close earlier than this time for other reasons.
Where can you buy beer in Delaware?
Aside from restricting when you can buy a beer, states can restrict where you can do so. Some states will also limit which types of alcohol you can buy in certain stores. Overall, Delaware is pretty restrictive on where you can buy alcohol.
The places you can buy beer in Delaware include:
- Bars and restaurants
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
Each of these locations comes with specific rules and regulations they must follow. In the sections below, I will go over the important rules for each one.
Bars and restaurants
Bars and restaurants in Delaware can sell beer, wine, and liquor between 9 a.m. and 1 a.m. every day. Sales of alcohol can be for on-premise consumption or off-premise consumption. To-go alcohol orders must be accompanied by food.
Bars can fill growlers if they receive a growler fill license.
Package and liquor stores
Delaware liquor stores can sell beer, wine, and liquor every day.
Their Monday through Saturday hours are from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. On Sunday their hours are from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. All sales are for off-premise consumption.
If the liquor store has the right licenses, it can fill growlers.
Breweries and taprooms
Breweries and taprooms in Delaware can sell beer, wine, and liquor from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. every day. Sales of alcohol can be for either on or off-premise consumption. You can get a growler filled at these locations.
Breweries are not limited to their own beer as long as they have the proper licenses.
Can you get beer delivered in Delaware?
Alcohol delivery is one of the more convenient options when it comes to stocking up. There are of course restrictions to this option. Delaware is one of the few states where alcohol delivery is almost entirely illegal. The one exception is direct orders to an out-of-state manufacturer.
Direct purchasing of beer and wine is legal in Delaware. To get beer or wine delivered, you must be a Delaware resident and follow these additional restrictions:
- 21 years or older
- The order must be accepted by an individual 21 years old or older
- Wine orders can’t exceed 60 750 ml bottles per year
- Beer orders can’t exceed 6 cases of 12 oz bottles per year
- Delivery must go from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer before reaching the customer
The closest you can get to getting a beer delivered from a restaurant is take-out, drive-thru, or curbside pickup.
What is the minimum drinking age in Delaware?
One thing that is consistent across the 50 states is the minimum drinking age.
The minimum drinking age is 21 in Delaware.
There are some exceptions to this minimum age although only some states recognize them.
Can minors drink beer in Delaware with parents?
One of the exceptions to the drinking age is parental permission. Some states will also recognize an of-age spouse.
Minors can drink with their parents in Delaware. They must be in their private residence with a parent, guardian, or of-age spouse present.
Another set of exceptions includes religious, medicinal, and educational purposes.
State alcohol laws
When it comes to the overall form of a state’s alcohol laws they fall into one of two classifications. A state is either a control state or a license state.
Delaware is a license state. The state manages the alcohol licenses and enforces its laws. It does not manage the distribution at the same level a control state would.
Control states are directly involved in the alcohol industry. These states control the wholesaling and may also run liquor stores. They often set the prices of alcohol.
License states are not as involved in the industry. They will manage licenses and set laws but do not involve themselves in the distribution.
Drinking laws in Delaware
Once you know the when and where of purchasing alcohol, you need to know the laws surrounding drinking alcohol. There are also a few important regulations regarding the containers of alcohol permitted and transportation.
Overall, Delaware has many outdated laws regarding alcohol. The laws surrounding alcohol delivery are much more restrictive than in other states. Additionally, you can buy alcohol in fewer places compared to most states.
Where Delaware is most similar to other states is in its DUI laws. These are in place to discourage drinking and driving.
Can you buy growlers and other unsealed beer containers in Delaware?
When you want to enjoy a draught-only beer at home you really only have one option. Growlers are a great way to take home craft beer. That said, there are laws that restrict their usage.
You can buy growlers in Delaware from breweries, taprooms, liquor stores, restaurants, and bars. There are no requirements for the growler to be branded with the location that it filling it.
The sizes that you can get filled are up to the licensee. Some locations will only fill certain sizes and styles of growlers.
Growlers are unsealed containers unless the filler places some form of a tamper-evident seal. This can get you in trouble in states with an open container law. Luckily, Delaware is more relaxed on this subject.
In Delaware, passengers in a vehicle can possess and even drink from an open container of alcohol. However, the driver is still restricted from drinking or possessing an open container.
The driver of a vehicle should also be aware of the legal limits of Delaware.
No matter what the open container laws are, it is always illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol.
Delaware determines the legal limits and penalties for a DUI based on the age of the driver. The circumstances involved will also affect the penalties of a DUI conviction.
Under 21 years old
The legal limit for drivers under 21 years old in Delaware is 0.02% BAC.
The penalties for a conviction can include a license suspension for 2 months.
If the driver’s BAC was 0.08% or higher they will be subjected to the full penalties of a DUI conviction.
21 years and older
The legal limit for drivers 21 years old and older in Delaware is 0.08% BAC. However, a BAC of 0.05% is enough for a conviction in Delaware.
The penalties for a conviction can include:
- Fine of at least $550 and up to $1,500
- Jail time of up to 12 months
- License suspension for at least 12 months and up to 24 months
If the driver’s BAC is above 0.15% the license suspension will be extended.
Summary of Delaware’s beer and alcohol laws
In Delaware, you can buy alcohol from on-premise retailers between 9 a.m. and 1 a.m. every day of the week. Off-premise retailers can sell alcohol from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, their hours are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Alcohol delivery is illegal except for direct shipments. You can fill growlers at most licensed retailers.