Buying booze in the Buckeye State
Every state restricts alcohol purchases to those who are 21 and older. But some states actually restrict when you can buy booze, both by time of day and day of the week. And within those states, some counties restrict alcohol sales altogether. Count Ohio as one of those more restrictive states. Even if you're of legal age to purchase alcohol, there are times and places in Ohio where you simply can't.
Restrictions around the sale of alcohol
Where you can buy alcohol depends on what you're buying. Hard liquor is only available for sale in licensed liquor stores. Beer, wine and cider are available for purchase at grocery stores, drugstores and any other licensed retailer.
When you can buy alcohol is also subject to restrictions. Licensed businesses can serve alcohol from 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. These laws are the same for bars, restaurants and stores that sell alcohol. Last call is around 2 a.m. at bars that stay open that late, so if you wanted to buy liquor after that, you'd have to hightail it to the liquor store pretty quickly.
Businesses can serve alcohol on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. if they have a special Sunday license. Businesses holding a D-6 liquor license – such as bars, restaurants and carry-out venues – can begin selling alcohol at 11 on Sunday mornings, per a 2009 change in law.
Regardless of what time it is, Ohio state law forbids the sale of alcohol to any intoxicated person. Even if it's 3 p.m., if the bartender thinks you're drunk, you're cut off.
Local restrictions. State laws govern the times businesses and bars can legally sell liquor, but local and municipal officials have the right to enact laws to make the sale of liquor even more limiting. Additionally, cities and towns can vote to make the sale of any and all alcohol illegal. For example, several counties in Ohio are completely "dry," meaning no alcohol is permitted to be sold anywhere in the area. Portions of Adams County in the southern part of the state are dry, as is New Albany, a city near Columbus. While privately consuming alcohol in these areas is not forbidden, the public consumption and sale of wine, beer, liquor and cider is against the law.
Public spaces. The consumption of alcohol outside of a bar or restaurant – that is, in a public place – is also illegal. Individuals with an open container can face fines up to $500, with the possibility of jail time.