Each state in the United States has its own alcohol laws. Montana has laws that differ from all other states in the country. Whether you’re visiting Montana or you live there, it’s important to know the alcohol laws for this year.
In Montana, you can buy beer every day. Bars and liquor stores are open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily and restaurants can sell alcohol daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Grocery stores and gas stations can sell beer and table wine from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. Growlers can be filled at bars and breweries. Alcohol delivery is unavailable.
Keep reading for more information on all of Montana’s important alcohol laws, including when to buy beer and drinking and driving laws.
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Is Montana a dry state?
For a state to be considered a dry state, it must ban or greatly restrict the sale or consumption of alcohol. A state can also be considered dry in some cases if it limits where and when you can buy beer or other alcohol. There are no dry states in the United States.
Montana is not a dry state. The state law does not prohibit the sale of alcohol. Some restrictions are in place, but not enough to turn Montana into a dry state.
Montana allows its counties and other localities to become dry from an official public vote on the matter.
Does Montana have any dry counties?
Several states allow their counties to vote to become dry at the local level.
Montana has two dry areas. The Crow Indian Reserve and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation are fully dry.
Alcohol sales and consumption are banned on both of these reservations. The rest of the state allows the sale and consumption of alcohol.
When can you buy beer in Montana?
One of the biggest ways that a state controls the sale of alcohol is by limiting the times at which you can buy it. Several states go as far as to ban alcohol sales on Sundays. Additionally, counties or smaller localities often reserve the right to enforce stricter alcohol laws.
In Montana, you can buy beer at bars from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Restaurants can sell alcohol from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. State liquor stores sell alcohol from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. Although liquor stores are allowed to open on Sunday during the same times as the rest of the week, most are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
These hours may seem strict, but they’re relatively lenient compared to other states’ alcohol laws, especially other control states.
Can you buy beer on Sunday in Montana?
Some states ban the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Montana does not have Sunday restrictions for buying alcohol from any location.
You can buy beer on Sunday in Montana. Liquor stores are allowed to open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. and bars and restaurants are open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 11 a.m., respectively. Grocery stores can sell beer and wine from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
These are the laws at the state level, and such rules and regulations might differ depending on the county.
State liquor stores are closed for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
When do bars close in Montana?
The state of Montana regulates closing times for bars and restaurants.
Bars in Montana close at 2 a.m. Only bars are allowed to stay open this late; restaurants with bars are required to close at 11 p.m.
Closing times are meant to keep the general public safe.
Where can you buy beer in Montana?
Another way that states can restrict alcohol is by only allowing sales in certain areas. Sometimes this is broken up by the type of alcohol as well.
The places you can buy beer in Montana include:
- Bars and restaurants
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
Each of these locations has specified open and closing times, and can only sell certain types of alcohol. This is another way that a state regulates the sale of alcohol.
I’ll detail the important information regarding each type of location.
Bars and restaurants
Bars in Montana can open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Restaurants can open at the same time, but can only sell alcohol from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Each can sell beer, wine, and liquor for on-premise consumption. Delivery from these locations is prohibited.
Growlers can be filled at restaurants throughout the state but can only be consumed off-premises.
Montana gas stations can sell beer and table wine every day from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. They are not permitted to sell liquor or deliver alcohol.
Gas stations can only sell packaged beers in limited quantity and volume, and cannot sell wine over 14% ABV.
Grocery stores can sell beer and table wine in Montana from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Like gas stations, grocery stores are prohibited from selling liquor or delivering alcohol.
These locations can sell beer of limited quality and are permitted to sell wine below 14% ABV.
Package and liquor stores
Package and liquor stores in Montana can sell beer, full-strength wine, and liquor from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. These locations are often closed on Sundays, but some are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or longer.
Montana is a control state and liquor stores are the only place you’ll find liquor for off-premise consumption throughout the state. It has 97 agency liquor stores.
Breweries and taprooms
Breweries and taprooms in Montana can sell beer, wine, and liquor from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Breweries may provide samples from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no more than 48 ounces per customer.
Most breweries will not open before 10 a.m. and many are usually closed at least one day a week.
Can you get beer delivered in Montana?
Beer delivery is a relatively new idea and has been adopted in recent years by several states. As of now, a majority of states allow alcohol delivery to some degree. Montana is not one of them.
Alcohol delivery is prohibited in Montana.
Alcohol delivery is unavailable in all parts of Montana despite the recent adoption of modernized laws in several other states.
What is the minimum drinking age in Montana?
The minimum drinking age is consistent across the United States.
The minimum drinking age in Montana is 21 years old.
Selling alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 is illegal and will result in penalties. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Can minors drink beer in Montana with parents?
Several states have exceptions to the minimum drinking age under special circumstances. Montana is one of those states.
In Montana, parents, guardians, and of-age spouses can provide alcohol to related minors in a private residence.
Other common exceptions to this law include religious, medical, or educational purposes.
State alcohol laws
The overall approach to a state’s alcohol laws falls into two categories. Those two types are control and license states.
License states let private retailers manage the majority of alcohol-related practices. Control states are more hands-on regarding the structure. Control states directly control the wholesaling, distribution, or both of certain types of alcohol–usually liquor.
Montana is a control state only for distilled spirits. The state of Montana does not control the sale of beer and table wine. All wholesale distribution is managed at the state level.
Montana, although it’s a control state, is rather lenient with its alcohol laws. Beer is available in most places and bars and restaurants are allowed to sell alcohol daily.
Drinking laws in Montana
The drinking laws in Montana have their moments of strictness. In general, the state is not as strict as other states in the U.S.
The legislation regarding alcohol in Montana is straightforward and designed to protect the public. Closing times and the restriction of liquor to strictly liquor stores deter alcohol incidents. Alcohol is available daily and growlers are permitted in select locations.
It wasn’t until recently that growlers were so easily accessible in Montana.
Can you buy growlers and other unsealed beer containers in Montana?
Growlers are key components of the craft beer scene and they play a helpful role in spreading the word about a brewery and its beer. Unfortunately, some states don’t allow growlers. Montana, however, allows growlers at certain locations.
You can buy growlers in Montana. Taverns, restaurants, pubs, breweries, and taprooms can fill growlers. The growlers must be labeled properly, filled by staff, and not exceed 64 ounces or ½ gallon.
Growlers can only be filled with beer. Liquor, wine, or mixed drinks are not acceptable growler fillers. All growlers must be consumed off-premise.
Open container laws are put in place to prevent alcohol incidents including public intoxication and drinking and driving. We just established that growlers are to be consumed off-premise. Are growlers open containers?
As long as the seal on the growler is properly sealed by a staff member where you got it filled, it is not an open container.
In Montana, open containers are illegal for drivers to have in their vehicles or while walking on the street. The container must be in an out-of-reach space, not in the passenger area of the vehicle. Open containers can be stored in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.
There are a few exceptions to this law. Taxis and buses permit open containers for passengers if they’ve met the proper licensing regulations.
According to the Montana Department of Transportation, Montana has the highest record of alcohol-related deaths in the United States. The open container law is one way that Montana mitigates alcohol abuse, DUIs, and fatalities.
Drinking and driving is illegal in Montana. The legal blood alcohol content limit is 0.08% for those 21 and older, and 0.02% for anyone under 21. DUI convictions result in penalties that increase in severity depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Blood alcohol content limits are put in place to foster a safer environment for Montana drivers.
Under 21 years old
The legal limit for drivers under the age of 21 in Montana is 0.02%. First-time offenders are subject to a $100-500 fine and a 90-day license suspension. The offender will also take a chemical dependency education course.
A second offense by a person under 21 can result in ten days imprisonment.
21 years and older
The legal limit for drivers 21 and older in Montana is 0.08%. First-time offenders of DUI face up to six months in prison and a $300-1,000 fine. If there was a passenger 16 years old or younger in the vehicle at the time of the incident, the offender can face up to 12 months in prison and a $600-2,000 fine.
A second offense increases the severity of these penalties.