For the most part, every state has its own rules regarding alcohol. No two are the same, and Rhode Island is no exception. If you are traveling to Rhode Island, you need to know the alcohol laws in 2023.
In Rhode Island, you can buy beer every day. On-premise locations sell beer from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday but not at all on Sunday. Off-premise locations sell beer from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Alcohol delivery and growler sales are allowed but regulated.
There is a multitude of legislation surrounding Rhode Island’s alcohol laws, so let’s review the most important ones, including where and when to buy beer and open container laws.
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Is Rhode Island a dry state?
Dry states prohibit the sale of alcohol. Such states can also be considered dry or semi-dry if they restrict the sale of alcohol to a certain degree, including when and where to buy it. There are no dry states in the United States.
Rhode Island is not a dry state. It does not prohibit the sale of alcohol. There are standard restrictions in place regarding the time of sale, but all areas in Rhode Island are permitted to sell alcohol.
Rhode Island permits its counties to enact stricter alcohol sales laws through referendums.
Does Rhode Island have any dry counties?
Although Rhode Island permits its counties to hold referendums and restrict alcohol sales, none have done so.
Rhode Island does not have any dry counties.
Alcohol sales are monitored at the state level, and each county is wet.
When can you buy beer in Rhode Island?
The main way that states regulate the sale of alcohol is by limiting the times that it can be sold. The state decides those times and, if permitted by that state, its smaller localities can further restrict alcohol sales hours.
You can buy beer in Rhode Island from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at off-premise locations Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. On-premise locations like bars can sell alcohol from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday, but sales are prohibited at these locations on Sunday.
The hours of sale are straightforward in Rhode Island, and you can buy beer any day of the week, depending on where you buy it from.
Can you buy beer on Sunday in Rhode Island?
Some states completely restrict alcohol sales on Sundays. Although Rhode Island does not prohibit Sunday beer sales, it places some restrictions regarding hours of sales.
You can buy beer on Sundays in Rhode Island. Retailers can sell beer on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bars and restaurants are prohibited from selling alcohol on Sundays in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island has extended summer hours for the retail sale of alcohol. Between June 1 and October 31, packaged alcohol can be sold until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday at off-premise locations.
Alcohol sales are prohibited on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day at retail locations. Bars and restaurants can sell beer on Thanksgiving.
When do bars close in Rhode Island?
Closing times for bars in Rhode Island are state regulated. Some states have particular rules that prohibit the sale of alcohol for one hour or 30 minutes before closing time.
Bars in Rhode Island close at 1 a.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, bars in Providence can remain open until 2 a.m.
Closing times are required in just about every state for the sake of protecting the public and hospitality industry workers.
Where can you buy beer in Rhode Island?
Beer sales are only allowed at specific types of locations in Rhode Island. Sales are restricted to a few places, and some places can only sell certain types of alcohol.
You cannot buy beer or other types of alcohol at gas stations or grocery stores in Rhode Island.
The types of places you can buy beer in Rhode Island include:
- Bars and restaurants
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
These locations each have rules and regulations surrounding the sale of alcohol. I’ll go over the important details for each location below.
Bars and restaurants
Bars and restaurants in Rhode Island can sell beer, wine, and liquor from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. Sales are prohibited at these locations on Sundays. These locations cannot deliver beer.
Bars and restaurants can sell beer in bottles and cans and on tap.
Happy hour is prohibited in Rhode Island, but a loophole for bars and restaurants around that stipulation lets these locations offer “daily specials” that serve the same or a similar purpose.
Package and liquor stores
Liquor stores in Rhode Island are the only place to buy packaged beer and other types of alcohol for off-premise consumption.
Liquor stores are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Liquor stores are the only places that sell alcohol on Sundays. All sales are for off-premise consumption only. These locations are allowed to deliver alcohol.
Breweries and taprooms
Breweries and taprooms in Rhode Island can sell beer for on-premise consumption from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. Breweries where “no food is cooked but prepared” are permitted to be open and sell alcohol on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Growlers are available at breweries, with a 72-ounce limit. Brewpubs are not limited to the number of growlers sold at a time to an individual.
Can you get beer delivered in Rhode Island?
Many states have enabled alcohol delivery in recent years, adding to the few that already allowed it. You can get beer delivered in Rhode Island.
Alcohol delivery from off-premise retail locations is legal in Rhode Island, as long as businesses adhere to the following rules:
- The buyer must present valid photographic evidence that they are 21 years old or older
- The sale is made during the hours of operation of the business
- The delivery is accompanied by an invoice including the required personal information of the buyer, as well as a list of items purchased
What is the minimum drinking age in Rhode Island?
The minimum drinking is the same in every state.
The minimum drinking age in Rhode Island is 21 years old.
Some states make exceptions to this law, allowing minors to drink under certain circumstances.
Can minors drink beer in Rhode Island with parents?
One of the circumstances allowing minors to consume alcohol is if it’s provided by a parent. Rhode Island is one of those states that makes an exception to the minimum drinking age.
In Rhode Island, minors can consume alcohol if it is in a private residence and provided by a parent, guardian, or of-age spouse.
It’s not technically illegal for minors to possess alcohol in a private residence, but one of the aforementioned people must accompany and monitor consumption.
State alcohol laws
There are a lot of variations between states regarding alcohol laws. Two types of states – control and license or open – dictate the sale of alcohol.
Control states control wholesaling, distribution, or both of alcohol, usually but not limited to liquor. Contrarily, license states allow private retailers majority management. In license states, you’ll usually find liquor and high-ABV wine at gas stations or grocery stores.
Rhode Island is a license state. Private retailers are allowed to sell liquor and other types of alcohol, including beer. There are no state-run liquor stores in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is still more strict with its alcohol laws in that you can’t buy alcohol of any kind at gas stations or grocery stores. This does not make Rhode Island a control state.
Drinking laws in Rhode Island
Rhode Island still has a long way to go when it comes to its drinking laws. Although, it has made some improvements throughout the years in things like delivery.
The drinking laws in Rhode Island are middle of the road and are set in place to protect the public. Growlers are heavily regulated and open containers are illegal. Drinking and driving is illegal with varying penalties.
Growlers are one of the state’s most regulated drinking vessels in that they’re not readily available.
Can you buy growlers and other unsealed beer containers in Rhode Island?
Growlers are a great way to support local craft breweries. They’re an efficient option for taking beer to-go from breweries and enjoying it at home and perhaps introducing a brewery’s products to a friend.
Unfortunately, some states make it difficult to do this. Growlers are heavily regulated across the country, and some states don’t allow them at all. Rhode Island does, however, allow growlers.
You can buy growlers in Rhode Island. Breweries in Rhode Island can fill growlers up to 72 ounces, but they must be from a sampling or tasting and need to be clearly labeled as such. Breweries also limit growlers to one per person, per visit. Brewpubs do not limit the number of growlers per person.
Growlers can only be purchased for off-site consumption and must not exceed 72 ounces.
Open containers are not allowed in Rhode Island.
Open containers are illegal in Rhode Island and a violation is considered a traffic violation. Conviction of violating this law results in a $200 fine and a license suspension of up to six months.
Exceptions to this law include open containers possessed by a 21-year-old inside statutorily authorized buses and limousines or if the open container is in the trunk of a car.
Open containers limit the possibility of drinking and driving and discourage individuals from breaking the law.
In Rhode Island, drinking and driving is illegal. The legal blood alcohol content limit depends on age. The penalties for drunk driving depend on BAC at the time of the crime and age. Other circumstances as a result of the crime can also affect penalty severity.
Rhode Island’s drinking and driving laws are designed to limit drunk driving and keep the population safe.
Under 21 years old
The legal BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 in Rhode Island is 0.02%.
A first-time conviction for breaking this law results in the following penalties:
- A $250 fine
- One to three months suspended license
- Driving school
- Alcohol treatment program
- 30 hours of community service
A second conviction will result in more severe penalties. Penalties become more severe if your BAC exceeds 0.08%.
A person under 18 convicted of a first-time DUI will:
- Be required to perform 10 to 60 days of community service.
- Lose their license for six to 18 months
- Enroll in a DUI course at the judge’s discretion
- Pay a fine of up to $50
21 years and older
The legal BAC limit in Rhode Island for those over 21 years old is 0.08%.
A driver who commits a first-time violation of these laws with a BAC between 0.08-0.10% will face the following penalties:
- A fine of $100-300
- 10-16 hours of community service alongside or in place of up to one-year imprisonment
- 30-180 day license suspension
The penalties for DUI are exceedingly severe the greater your BAC at the time of the violation. Circumstances such as death or other bodily injuries, including imprisonment, cause the most significant penalties.