Like all states, Nebraska has its own set of laws surrounding beer and other alcohol. Whether you live in the cornhusker state or are just visiting you need to know these laws. What do Nebraska’s beer laws look like in 2023?
In Nebraska, you can beer a beer from both on- and off-premise retailers between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. throughout the week. Local ordinances may extend these hours until 2 a.m. or to cover Sunday sales, but they are also able to further limit the sales hours. Alcohol delivery, growlers, and crowlers are legal.
There is much more to the alcohol laws in Nebraska. Let’s go over the where and when you can get a beer as well as specifics such as the open container laws.
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Is Nebraska a dry state?
A dry state is one that entirely prohibits or heavily restricts the sale of alcohol. There are no dry states in the United States.
Nebraska is not a dry state. It does not prohibit the sale of alcohol within its borders.
However, some states allow their counties the power to vote on their dry or wet status.
Does Nebraska have any dry counties?
Nebraska grants counties or cities limited power to vote on the sale of alcohol.
There are no dry counties in Nebraska. The last dry county went wet in 2004.
Localities such as counties and towns can adjust the hours of sale for alcohol but cannot outlaw it entirely.
When can you buy beer in Nebraska?
Of course, what’s most important is when you can buy alcohol. Even wet states can place some restrictions on when you can buy a beer. This is not enough to change a state’s designation from wet to dry.
You can buy a beer any day of the week in Nebraska. The hours of sale for alcohol, both for on and off-premise consumption, are from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m. Sunday sales are more varied.
Localities can vote to extend sales hours until 2 a.m. or further restrict them. The way these voting decisions are structured, localities can extend the closing time for places like bars and restaurants and places like liquor stores or just one.
Can you buy beer on Sunday in Nebraska?
Like dry counties, some states place special restrictions called Blue Laws on alcohol hours of sale on Sunday. These laws are most common in the south but are present throughout the country.
Nebraska’s state laws prohibit Sunday alcohol sales but allow local governments to lift this restriction. For example Lincoln, Nebraska has no special restriction on Sunday sales. The hours are the same throughout the week.
Since Sunday sales are up to the locality, it is best to check your area’s stance on Sunday sales. Whether there is a special restriction on Sunday or not does not mean that every place that sells alcohol will be open. Some businesses will close of their own accord on Sunday for religious reasons.
Other days when it is common to place restrictions on alcohol sales include election days. State law does not do so, but local governments can.
When do bars close in Nebraska?
When it comes to closing times, it is doubly important to know when the bars close. This closing time can determine what your night looks like when out at the bars.
Bars close at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. at the latest in Nebraska. Some localities may require bars to close earlier than 1 a.m.
Bars may also close earlier on some nights of the week for various reasons.
Where can you buy beer in Nebraska?
In addition to when you can buy a beer, it is important to know where you can do so. Beer is usually available everywhere you can buy alcohol but some states have some odd divisions between beer and liquor.
The places you can buy beer in Nebraska include:
- Bars and restaurants
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
Each of these types of alcohol retailers has certain rules and regulations. In the sections below, I will go over each one and all of the things you should know.
Bars and restaurants
Nebraska bars and restaurants can sell beer, wine, and liquor between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. 7 days a week in most counties. Most sales are for on-premise consumption, but to-go orders that include alcohol are legal. Both styles of retailers can fill growlers.
Any to-go alcohol orders must be sealed in such a way that it is obvious if they’ve been opened.
Gas stations in Nebraska can sell beer, wine, and liquor any day of the week. The hours they can sell alcohol are from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. All sales are for off-premise consumption. Most alcohol must be in its original packaging though they can sell growlers.
Due to growler restrictions, gas stations may choose to avoid growlers.
Grocery stores in Nebraska can sell beer and other alcohol between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. any day of the week. All sales must be for off-premise consumption in the original packaging. Grocery stores can sell and fill growlers.
As with gas stations, grocery stores may not get into selling growlers due to the restrictions.
Package and liquor stores
Nebraska liquor stores can sell beer, wine, and liquor any day between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. All sales must be for off-premise consumption. The majority of sales must be in their original packaging. Growler sales are available.
Some Nebraska liquor stores have attached tasting rooms that fill growlers.
Breweries and taprooms
Nebraska breweries can sell beer, wine, and liquor any day of the week from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. Alcohol sales may be for both off and on-premise consumption. Sales for off-premise consumption can be in original packaging, growlers, or crowlers.
Breweries were recently granted some limited rights to self-distribute instead of going through a wholesaler.
Can you get beer delivered in Nebraska?
If you don’t want to leave the house to restock on alcohol, you used to be out of luck. Thankfully, alcohol delivery is much less restricted these days.
Nebraska allows alcohol delivery with a few regulations, including:
- Proof of age must be checked both when ordering and upon arrival
- No one can get more than 9 liters of alcohol delivered per month
- Delivery may be completed by employees of the licensee or third-party groups
Third-party groups include services such as Drizly.
What is the minimum drinking age in Nebraska?
The minimum drinking age is the same in each of the 50 states. This legal drinking age is meant to protect those below it from abusing alcohol.
The minimum drinking age is 21 in Nebraska.
There are several common exceptions to this restriction. However, some states do not recognize these exceptions.
Can minors drink beer in Nebraska with parents?
One of the most common exceptions is parental or guardian permission. This is to allow parents to educate their children on the effects and dangers of alcohol.
Individuals under 21 cannot drink with their parents in Nebraska. Parental or guardian permission is not recognized.
Other common exceptions include medical and religious reasons.
State alcohol laws
There are two basic forms of state alcohol laws. The first is a control state. These states directly control all wholesaling in the state. They set the taxes, prices, and which brewers can sell in the state.
The second is a license state. These states establish rules and regulations regarding alcohol sales but are not directly involved.
Nebraska is a license state. It does not directly control the wholesalers in the state.
Furthermore, the state does not place a distinction between beer and hard liquor.
Drinking laws in Nebraska
When it comes to the 50 sets of laws surrounding alcohol in the US, some are more restrictive than others.
Nebraska’s drinking laws are fairly straightforward. Nebraska takes a hands-off approach as compared to some states. There are a few oddities that have survived the years since their inception, but they are slowly being updated.
The state’s alcohol and drinking laws are primarily there to protect the general public.
Can you buy growlers and other unsealed beer containers in Nebraska?
Growlers can be a great way to support craft brewing. Not to mention taking home some delicious beer. Unfortunately, there are often restrictions if not outright banning.
Growlers are legal in Nebraska, though they must not exceed 64 ounces. When refilling, they must be clean and bear the logo of the retailer that fills them. When filled, growlers must be sealed to make tampering apparent.
Your growler can be exchanged with one from the retailer as long as the one you’re exchanging also came from that retailer. The logo requirement can make getting a growler filled such a hassle.
When you need to get that growler or other unsealed container home, you need to know about the state’s open container laws. This covers any container that holds an alcoholic beverage that is not clearly sealed or tampered with.
Nebraska law states that possessing an open container in a motor vehicle is illegal. Any open container must be placed in the vehicle’s trunk. If the vehicle does not have a trunk it must be placed behind the rearmost row of seats.
This law excludes vehicles such as limousines that are hired for commercial transportation. The driver must not have any access to the alcohol but the passengers may possess and even drink alcohol.
When it comes to driving, Nebraska’s laws are there to reduce incidents of drunk driving.
Nebraska determines the legal limits and penalties based on the age of the individual. The circumstances involved will also have an impact.
Under 21 years old
The legal limit for drivers under 21 in Nebraska is 0.02% BAC.
The penalties for a first-time conviction can include:
- 30-day license suspension
- Traffic infraction charge
If the individual refuses to submit to a chemical test, the license suspension goes up to 90 days. Additionally, if their BAC is above 0.08%, they will face the penalties for those who are of legal drinking age.
21 years and older
The legal limit for drivers 21 and older in Nebraska is 0.08% BAC.
The penalties for a first-time conviction can include:
- Jail time up to 60 days
- Fine of up to $500
- License suspension for up to 6 months
If the individual’s BAC is higher than 0.15% the license suspension increases to a year.