The U.S. government leaves much of the alcohol management up to the states, and 50 states mean 50 sets of beer and alcohol laws. Whether you’re traveling to West Virginia or live there you need to know what the alcohol laws look like in 2023.
In West Virginia, you can buy a beer 7 days a week. On-premise retailers can sell all forms of alcohol between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. every day. Off-premise retailers can sell beer and wine from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. every day. Liquor can be sold for off-premise consumption between 6 a.m. and midnight. Alcohol delivery and growler sales are permitted.
There are many peculiarities of the alcohol laws in West Virginia. Let’s go over when and where you can get a beer as well as the surrounding laws such as open containers.
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Is West Virginia a dry state?
For a state to be considered a dry state, it must prohibit the sale of alcohol state-wide. The label can also be applied to states that heavily restrict when and where you can buy alcohol. There are no dry states in the U.S. today.
West Virginia is not a dry state. The state law does not prohibit the sale of alcohol. Although there are some restrictions, they are not severe enough to consider West Virginia a dry state.
However, many states allow their localities the power to go dry.
Does West Virginia have any dry counties?
West Virginia is one of those states that give their localities the power to become dry.
West Virginia has one dry area: the town of Brandonville.
You can’t buy alcohol in Brandonville. The rest of the state is wet and allows the sale of alcohol.
When can you buy beer in West Virginia?
One of the main ways that state laws restrict alcohol without becoming dry is by limiting the hours of sale. A state or locality (if the state allows) can restrict the time that retailers may sell alcohol. It is important to know these time frames so that you’re never out of luck.
You can buy a beer between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. for off-premise consumption but liquor is cut off at 12 a.m. On-premise consumption locations like bars can sell alcohol between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. Liquor stores can sell alcohol between 6 a.m. and midnight. Private clubs can sell alcohol between 6 a.m. and 3 a.m.
As you can see, the hours of sale are fairly consistent with slight variation depending on the location. These hours are the same for every day of the week except for state-run stores.
Can you buy beer on Sunday in West Virginia?
Some states restrict or even completely prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sundays. West Virginia does place some Sunday restrictions.
You can buy beer on Sunday in West Virginia. However, liquor stores may not open on Sundays. Both on and off-premise consumption retailers are allowed to open during the same hours as the rest of the week.
That said, some companies may close on Sunday or another day of the week for various reasons.
In addition to closing on Sunday, state liquor stores must also close on Christmas and Easter day.
When do bars close in West Virginia?
Closing times for bars are usually state regulated. They may even have stipulations that for a period before closing time the bar can’t sell any more alcohol.
Bars in West Virginia close at 2 a.m. Private clubs can close as late as 3:30 a.m. but must stop selling alcohol at 3 a.m.
Mandated closing times are typically meant to protect the public.
Where can you buy beer in West Virginia?
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 West Virginia include:
- Bars and restaurants
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
These different types of locations come with their own rules and regulations. In each section below, I will go over the important ones to know.
Bars and restaurants
West Virginia bars and restaurants can sell beer, wine, and liquor from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. 7 days a week. Both bars and restaurants can deliver alcohol as curbside pickup or home delivery. They can also sell and fill growlers.
Private clubs can be open until 3 a.m. They may also make deliveries and fill growlers.
Gas stations in West Virginia can sell beer and wine between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. every day. They can only sell liquor between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m., however. If the gas station chooses to, they can deliver alcohol and fill growlers. All sales must be for off-premise consumption.
The hours for liquor sales are different for off-premise retailers. Bars and restaurants do not have this limitation.
West Virginia grocery stores can sell beer and wine every day from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. They can sell liquor between 6 a.m. and midnight. Like gas stations, if grocery stores choose, they can deliver alcohol and fill growlers. All sales must be for off-premise consumption.
The different liquor sale hours only apply because grocery stores are off-premise retailers.
Package and liquor stores
West Virginia liquor stores can sell beer, wine, and liquor every day from 6 a.m. until 12 a.m. All sales must be in their original packaging and for off-premise consumption. The only exception to the original packaging rule is growlers. Delivery is also an option.
Since liquor stores primarily sell liquor they must close at midnight. Some will even close earlier for various reasons.
Breweries and taprooms
Breweries in West Virginia can sell their beer for on and off-premise consumption. The hours of sale are from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. Sales can be in the form of bottles, cans, growlers, and on tap.
Most breweries or brewpubs won’t take full advantage of the hours of sale.
Can you get beer delivered in West Virginia?
In recent years nearly every state has legalized alcohol delivery if it wasn’t already legal. West Virginia is no different. You can get a beer delivered in West Virginia.
Alcohol delivery is legal in West Virginia. However, there are a few rules that come with it:
- The delivery driver must be 21 years old or older
- Delivery can be completed by licensee employees or a third-party service
- The alcohol must be in a tamper-evident sealed container
- The customer’s identification must be verified upon delivery
- The customer cannot be intoxicated
What is the minimum drinking age in West Virginia?
The minimum drinking age is consistent across the United States.
The minimum drinking age is 21 in West Virginia.
Selling or providing alcohol to an individual below this age will result in fines and more. There are, however, exceptions to this law that some states recognize.
Can minors drink beer in West Virginia with parents?
One such exception to the minimum drinking age is parental approval. Several states recognize a parent or guardian’s judgment as to when their child may try alcohol.
Parents, guardians, or of-age spouses can provide their related minor alcohol in West Virginia.
Other common exceptions include religious, medical, or educational purposes.
State alcohol laws
When it comes to a state’s overall approach to alcohol laws, there can be a lot of variation. The overarching differences can be divided into two types: control and license states.
Control states will directly control the wholesaling, distribution, or both of certain types of alcohol – usually liquor. License states let private retailers manage the majority while the state controls the structure and licensing.
West Virginia is a control state in that it controls the distribution of liquor into the state. All liquor must go through the state warehouse. The state does not include wine or beer under 14% in its definition of alcoholic liquor.
West Virginia used to be much more strict with its control over alcohol. In the last year or two, it has revised many of the alcohol laws. The state has relaxed its restrictions on when you can buy alcohol as well as who can sell liquor.
Drinking laws in West Virginia
Unlike the overall alcohol laws, the drinking laws have remained roughly as strict as they have been. That said, they aren’t as strict as some states.
The drinking laws in West Virginia are designed to protect the general public. Driving while intoxicated is a crime and comes with penalties. Open containers of alcohol are regulated.
The laws surrounding growlers are firm but not unreasonable.
Can you buy growlers and other unsealed beer containers in West Virginia?
Whether you just want to enjoy craft beer at home or you want to support craft brewers, growlers are the way to go. Unfortunately, some states have strict laws on the containers or even outlaw them entirely. Luckily, that is not the case in West Virginia.
You can buy growlers in West Virginia. The growler cannot be bigger than 128 ounces, must be sanitized prior to filling, and must be labeled with product and licensee information. Growlers are usually filled with beer, but can also be filled with wine or craft cocktails.
Only private club restaurants and private manufacturer clubs can fill craft cocktail growlers. The craft cocktail must be in a ratio of 1 ounce of alcohol to 4 ounces of a mixer. All growlers must be for off-premise consumption.
Since you can’t drink your growler at the place you’ve gotten it filled, you’ve got to take it home. This raises the question of open containers. Are growlers considered open containers in West Virginia?
As long as the seal on a growler is intact they are not considered open containers. Once it is broken you must follow the open container laws of the state.
In West Virginia, it is illegal for the driver or passengers to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. The container must be placed in the trunk, a locked glove box or center console, or behind the rearmost seat if there is no trunk.
There are a few exceptions to this law. Passengers in a commercial transportation vehicle such as a limo can possess an open container. This exception also applies to passengers in the living area of a motor home.
The open container law is one of the ways that the state discourages drinking and driving. The other way is legal BAC limits and penalties for exceeding those limits.
In West Virginia, the legal limits are dependent on the age of the driver. The penalties are also age dependent but can also depend on how high the driver’s BAC is. The circumstances involved can also increase the penalties.
West Virginia’s driving laws are fairly strict in an effort to curb instances of drunk driving.
Under 21 years old
The legal limit for drivers under 21 years old is 0.02% BAC in West Virginia. A first-time conviction can come with the following penalties:
- Fine of at least $25 and up to $100
- License suspension for 60 days
Subsequent convictions will come with more severe penalties. If the driver’s BAC is above 0.08% the penalties will also be more severe.
21 years and older
The legal limit for drivers 21 years and older is 0.08% BAC in West Virginia. The first conviction can come with the following penalties:
- Jail time of up to 6 months
- Fine of at least $100 and up to $500
- License suspension for at least 90 days
The circumstances involved, such as death as a result of the DUI, will make the penalties more extreme.