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State Profiles of Underage Drinking Laws

- New Hampshire -

Underage Drinking: Underage Purchase of Alcohol

Purchase is prohibited and there is NO ALLOWANCE for youth purchase for law enforcement purposes.

Underage Drinking: Minimum Ages for On-Premises Servers and Bartenders

Beer: 18 for both servers and bartenders
Wine: 18 for both servers and bartenders
Spirits: 18 for both servers and bartenders

Underage Drinking: Minimum Ages for Off-Premises Sellers

Beer: 16
Wine: 16
Spirits: 16

Condition(s) that must be met in order for an underage person to sell alcoholic beverages:

  • manager/supervisor is present

To act as a cashier in a selling capacity, a minor is required to be at least 16 years of age, providing a person at least 18 years of age is in attendance and is designated in charge of the employees and business.

Underage Drinking: False Identification for Obtaining Alcohol

Provision(s) targeting minors:

  • Use of a false ID to obtain alcohol is a criminal offense
  • No driver's license suspension procedure

Provision(s) targeting suppliers:

  • It is a criminal offense to lend, transfer, or sell a false ID

Provision(s) targeting retailers:

  • Licenses for drivers under age 21 are easily distinguishable from those for drivers age 21 and older
  • Specific affirmative defense - the retailer inspected the false ID and came to a reasonable conclusion based on its appearance that it was valid
  • Retailer has the statutory right to sue a minor who uses a false ID to purchase alcohol for any losses or fines suffered by the retailer as a result of the illegal sale

In New Hampshire, the prohibition against the use of a false ID for purchasing alcoholic beverages applies to persons less than 21 years of age. Before January 1, 2003, the denial of driving privileges as a penalty for violating this prohibition only applied to persons less than 18 years of age. After January 1, 2003, the denial of driving privileges applies to those under 21 years of age.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits: Youth (Underage Operators of Noncommercial Motor Vehicles)
BAC limit: 0.02 - a BAC level above the limit is per se (conclusive) evidence of a violation.

Applies to drivers under age 21.

Retail Sales: Keg Registration

Keg definition: more than 7 gallons


  • possessing an unregistered, unlabeled keg - max. fine/jail: $1000
  • destroying the label on a keg - max. fine/jail: $1000

Purchaser information collected:

  • purchaser's name and address
  • verified by a government-issued ID
  • Warning information to purchaser: active – purchaser action required (e.g., signature)

    Deposit required: $

    Provisions do not specifically address disposable kegs

    Underage Drinking: Use/Lose: Driving Privileges

    Type(s) of violation leading to driver's license suspension, revocation, or denial:

    • Underage purchase
    • Underage possession

    Use/lose penalties apply to minors under age 21

    Authority to impose driver's license sanction

    • discretionary

    Length of suspension/revocation:

    • Minimum: 90 days
    • Maximum: 365 days

    Although New Hampshire does not authorize a Use / Lose penalty for all underage consumption, a law that became effective on January 1, 2003, imposes a discretionary license sanction on minors who are "intoxicated by consumption of an alcoholic beverage," and provides that an alcohol concentration "of .02 or more shall be prima facie evidence of intoxication.” See N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 179:10(I), 263:56-b.

    Underage Drinking: Prohibitions Against Hosting Underage Drinking Parties

    Social host law is specifically limited to underage drinking parties.

    Action by underage guest that triggers violation: Intention Possession Consumption

    Property type(s) covered by liability law:

    • Residence
    • Outdoor
    • Other

    Standard for hosts' knowledge or action regarding the party: OVERT ACT - host must have actual knowledge and commit an act that contributes to the occurrence

    Preventive action by the host negates the violation (see note).


    • Family

    In New Hampshire, an "underage alcohol house party" means a gathering of five or more people under the age of 21 at any occupied structure, dwelling, or curtilage, where at least one person under the age of 21 unlawfully possesses or consumes an alcoholic beverage. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if he or she owns or has control of the occupied structure, dwelling, or curtilage where an underage alcohol house party is held and he or she knowingly commits an overt act in furtherance of the occurrence of the underage alcohol house party knowing persons under the age of 21 possess or intend to consume alcoholic beverages. The "preventive action" provision in New Hampshire allows the defendant to avoid criminal liability by establishing, as an affirmative defense, that he or she took preventive action with respect to the underage alcohol house party.

    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services USA.gov - Government Made Easy