Wacky alcohol laws exist across the entire U.S. and beyond. Discover some of these silly laws right here. They appear in groups by subject matter.
- Wacky Alcohol Laws
Have fun learning about these wacky alcohol laws. Then share them with your friends and family.
I. Wacky Alcohol Laws
A. Bars & Restaurants
- After Michael O’Neil opened O’Neil’s Saloon, the state liquor authority said he was breaking the law. His violation was using the word “saloon.” So he complied by changing the “S” into a “B.” Thus changing it to O’Neil’s Baloon. 1
- Don’t plan on running a “tab” in Iowa. That’s because it’s illegal. 10
- An owner a venue selling alcohol in Iowa can’t legally have a drink there after closing for business. And this also applies to all employees.15
- Permitting diners to take home an unfinished bottle of alcohol beverage discourages intoxication. Otherwise, they tend to drink all of it to prevent “waste.” However, this is illegal in Michigan. 18
- Nebraska state law prohibits bars from selling beer unless they are also brewing a kettle of soup. 22
- Drunk drivers in San Salvador can be punished by death before a firing squad. 33
- Let’s say you’re intoxicated but not driving your car. But the person who is driving your car is intoxicated. In that case, police can charge both you and the driver with DUI in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (DUI is driving under the influence.) 26
- State law of North Dakota prohibits serving beer and pretzels at the same time in any bar or restaurant. 23
- Texas state law prohibits taking more than three sips of beer at a time while standing. 21
- The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas. That’s because it contains a recipe for making beer that can be used at home. 19
- In Houston, Texas, beer many not be purchased after midnight on Sunday. However, it can be purchased anytime on Monday…which happens to begin right after midnight on Sunday! So it’s illegal to buy it when its legal to buy it? 24
- It’s illegal to sit on any street curb in St. Louis, Missouri, and drink beer from a bucket. 32
- The French wine “Fat Bastard” is widely available in the US. However, both Texas and Ohio banned its sale within their borders. 2
- A young adult college student studying in Italy can’t have a glass of wine with dinner. That’s according to the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act. The Feds prohibit students under 21 from conforming to the drinking customs of the countries in which they are studying. This, of course, is contrary to the educational goals of study abroad programs. 4
- Colorado law requires that wine be sold in containers of at least 24 ounces. Spirits must be in containers at least a fifth of a gallon. But it also decrees that no such beverage can be in hotel minibars in anything larger than miniature containers. 25
- Don’t plan on using any of the celebratory Champagne bottle sizes. More specifically, these are the Methuselahs, Salamanazars, Balthazars and Nebuchadnezzars. These very traditional Champagne bottle sizes are all illegal in Florida. 27
E. Beer, Wine, Spirits
- A judge can imprison a person under 21 for merely sending a gift of alcoholic beverage to anyone in Kentucky. And the imprisonment can be for up to five years. 6
- Maryland requires that alcohol beverage writers be certified as experts by an agency of the state. Otherwise, they can’t receive over three bottles product samples per brand. 7
- People under 21 who take out trash containing a single empty alcohol beverage container are at risk in Missouri. On the basis of that alone, police can arrest them for illegal possession of alcohol.(8)
- Let’s say a police officer is having a drink in a bar in Iowa. An employee pours water down the drain. That seems innocent enough. However, the water is legally an alcohol beverage intended for unlawful purposes. 9
- It’s illegal in New Jersey for parents to give their children under 18 even a sip of alcohol. 17
- In Saskatchewan, Canada, it’s illegal to drink alcohol while watching exotic dancers. 34
F. Freedom of Speech
- The California Alcoholic Beverage Control Act seems to violate the First Amendment rights of alcohol producers. That is, it prohibits them from listing the names of retailers or restaurants that sell their products. And that includes in advertising or even in newsletters. 5
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BAFT) bans the word “refreshing” to describe any alcohol beverage. 3
G. Other Wacky Alcohol Laws
- It’s illegal to display any alcohol beverages within five feet of a cash register in California. The law applies to all stores selling both alcohol and motor fuel.12
- It’s illegal in Michigan for a person under 21 to give a gift of alcohol beverage to anyone. Even to a person of legal age. 13
- Police can arrest anyone in California for selling alcohol to a minor. And that’s even if the purchaser uses a false or altered ID to buy it. 14
- It’s illegal in Indiana for liquor stores to sell milk or cold soft drinks. They can, however, sell unrefrigerated soft drinks. 20
- Often states and other jurisdictions in the US have conflicting laws. For example, some require that the interior of public drinking establishments be visible from the street. On the other hand, others specifically prohibit that. Some insist that food be available wherever people are drinking. Yet others prohibit that. And some require that anyone drinking stand at a bar. Whereas others mandate that they sit while drinking.
- Ohio state law prohibits giving alcohol to a fish to the point of intoxication.
- In Fairbanks, Alaska, it’s illegal to feed a moose any alcohol beverage.28
- In the 1940’s, California law made it illegal to serve alcohol to a gay person. 35
Know of any wacky alcohol laws not here?If so, please contact hansondj [at sign] Potsdam [dot] edu/.
II. Resources for Wacky Alcohol Laws
- Asimov, I. (Ed.) Isaac Asimov’s Book of Facts. 3000 of the Most Interesting, Entertaining, Fascinating, Unbelievable, Unusual and Fantastic Facts. Mamaroneck, NY: Hastings, 1992.
- Del Re, G., et al. The Only Book : A Compendium of One-Of-A-Kind Facts. NY: Fawcett Columbine, 2003.
- Downs, L. , and Weiss, D. So You Think You’re Good at Trivia. NY: Avery, 1995. Good for trivia about alcohol.
- Gephart, D. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen. Paw Prints, 2013.
- Goodgold, E. and Carlinsky, D. Trivia and More Trivia. Secaucas, NJ: Castle, 1975.
- Horace, L. Trivia. Toronto: Horace, 2007.
- Kearney, M. The Great Canadian Trivia Book 2. Toronto, Canada: Hounslow, 1998.
- Louis, D. 2201 Fascinating Facts. NY: Greenwich, 1977.
- Marbles, J. The College of Obscure Knowledge. A Lighthearted Look at an Odd Collection of Trivia. Tulsa, OK: Trade Life, 1998.
- Newman, S. and Fittipaldi, H. 15,003 Answers: the Ultimate Trivia Encyclopedia. NY: Random, 2007.
- Schoenberg, I. Talk About Trivia: 1001 Questions. Longman, 1986.
- Spignesi, S. The Odd Index: The Ultimate Compendium of Bizarre and Unusual Facts. NY: Plume, 1994.
- Vorhees, D. The Book of Totally Useless Information. NY: MJF Books, 1993.
- _______ The Ultimate Bathroom Book of Useless Information. Secaucus, NJ: Carol, 1995
- Worth, F. Worth, F. The Complete Unabridged Super Trivia Encyclopedia. BN Pub., 2012.
1. Barr, A. Drink: A Social History. NY: Carroll & Graf, 1999, p. 381.
2. Click, J. Bastards are Here! Wine Trader, T(3), 1999, 57-58.
3. Mead, J. The Wine Curmedgeon. The Wine Trader, Q(6).
4. Epstein, J. Study abroad programs: No respite from the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act, SAFETI On-Line Newsletter (www.usc.edu/dept/education/globaled/safeti/abroad.html), Jan 21, 2000).
5. Mead, J. The Wine Curmudgeon, Wine Trader T(3), 1999, 7-10.
6. Mead, J. The Wine Curmudgeon, Wine Trader. Q(6).
8. MO Revised Statutes (311.325).
9. IA Code (123.120).
10. IA Code (123, 49-2-c).
11. General Statutes of CT (Title 3, sec. 30-36).
12. CA Alcohol Beverage Control Act (23790.5-d).
13. MI Liquor Control Code (436.1207-c).
14. CA Alcohol Control Act (25660).
15. IA Code (123.49-2-b-k), IA Admin Code (1850).
16. PA Crime Code (Title 18); MN Statutes 1999 (340A.902).
17. NJ Alcohol Beverage Control Law (Title 33).
18. MI Liquor Control Code (436.2021).
19.www.dumblaws.com/laws/united-states/texas.html/ Good source of wacky alcohol laws.
20.Chap. 10, Liquor Dealer Permits. IC 7.1-3-10-5, Sec. 5.
25. Prial, F. Tales From the Annals of Drinking Laws. New York Times, March 11, 1998; www.marksquires.com/wine-fp.htm
27. FL Statutes
28. Heath, D. Drinking Occasions. Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel, 2000, p. 53.
29. Mead, J. Be careful out there, Wine Trader, T(3), 1999, p. 10.
31. Fairbanks Daily News Miner, cited in www.funtrivia.com
34. Saskatchewan Provincial Statutes, cited in www.funtrivia.com