Texas Alcohol Laws: When Can I Buy Liquor on Sunday?
This month, Texas's Sunday alcohol sales times expanded.
Until recently, you had to wait until noon on Sundays to pick up a six-pack or a bottle of Bordeaux with your groceries, but as of September 1, 2021, you can start at 10 am.
When Can I Buy Alcohol in Texas?
Texas alcohol sale hours are different based on the type of alcohol and where you buy it.
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What Time Can You Buy Beer in Texas Stores? What Time Do They Stop Selling Beer in Texas?
Grocery and convenience stores start selling beer at 7am Monday through Saturday, and Sunday sales now begin at 10am. They stop selling at midnight Sunday through Friday, but you have until 1am on Saturday.
What Time Can You Buy Liquor in Texas Stores?
Texas's liquor laws are stricter than those for beer.
Texas liquor stores are closed on Sundays, as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. If Christmas or New Year's falls on a Sunday, they have to remain closed on Monday.
Every other day, Texas liquor stores, sometimes called "package" stores, operate from 10am to 9pm.
What Time Can You Buy Wine in Texas Stores?
For grocery and convenience stores, Texas's alcohol sales times for wine are the same as beer: Monday through Friday 7am to midnight, Saturday 7am to 1am, and Sundays now from 10am to midnight.
Aside from grocery or convenience stores, there are also package stores that sell beer and/or wine, but not liquor. If a package store only sells wine, they have the same operating hours as a liquor store. If they sell beer and wine but nothing else, then special restrictions apply to the sales of wine with an alcohol content over 17%.
What Time Can You Be Served Alcohol in Texas?
Alcohol sales hours are different if you're being served for consumption on-premises, as you would at a bar or restaurant. For on-premises consumption, the rules are the same whether you're buying beer, wine, liquor, or mixed drinks.
Texas's on-premises service hours are similar to their beer sales hours – they start at 7am Monday through Saturday, end at midnight Sunday through Friday, and end at 1am on Saturday.
There are just a few extra wrinkles:
- Sunday start times at bars or restaurants depend on whether you're ordering food as well – if you are, you can be served at 10am. If not, you can't be served either until noon.
- Alcohol service can begin at 10am on Sunday during live events at sports venues, festivals, fairs, or concerts, whether food is served or not.
- Certain bars or restaurants in the state can serve until 2am any night of the week with a "late hours" permit.
- Hotel bars can serve registered guests at any time of day.
Wineries, which are usually a mix of on- and off-premises sales, can operate from 8am to midnight every day but Sunday, when their hours are 10am to midnight.
Due to COVID-19, on-premises licensees are allowed to offer alcohol pickup and delivery for the moment under certain conditions.
Why Are Texas Alcohol Laws So Complicated?
Texas alcohol laws are sometimes referred to as ABC laws (short for Alcohol Beverage Control) or liquor laws, whether you're specifically talking about liquor, beer, wine, or all three.
Mostly, Texas liquor laws are complicated because they've been around for a long time, are regulated at multiple levels, and deal with a large, complex industry. The state passed its first "Blue Laws" (alcohol bans) in 1935, two years after the end of federal Prohibition. Some counties or municipalities have separate alcohol laws enforced on top of the state laws.
ABC laws have grown and evolved based on the needs and sensibilities of Texans themselves. Over time, that's made them a complicated mess.
Who Regulates Texas Liquor Laws?
Sometimes a change to Texas's alcohol laws comes straight from the Texas legislature. That's what happened with the recent House Bill 1518, which expanded Texas's Sunday alcohol sales hours.
There's also the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), which used to be called the Texas Liquor Control Board. TABC writes specific regulations that help them enforces ABC laws.
Texas has many different types of liquor licenses and permits based on the type of business, and they all have slightly different rules.
How Do Sellers and Servers Keep Texas Alcohol Laws Straight?
Every business is responsible for securing the right license and making sure they follow the right rules.
However, many of the people that actually enforce the rules are employees that weren't involved in the licensing or permitting process. In the case of retail establishments that sell or serve to the public, these employees are often high-turnover wage workers.
That leaves a pretty big liability for everyone involved, and it's why Texas passed the Safe Harbor Act, which protects an employer from TABC administrative action if an employee sells or serves alcohol when they shouldn't.
However, to be protected, the employer has to meet certain conditions. One of the biggest conditions is making sure that sellers and servers have up-to-date and approved training on TABC's rules.
As a result, most employers require "TABC Certification," or proof of TABC-approved training.
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