Top 10 bizarre US drinking laws
From the practical and protective to the inexplicably bizarre, America is home to some of the world’s oddest alcohol laws.
When the 21st Amendment ended the 13-year Prohibition in 1933, authority for regulating the consumption of alcohol was handed over to state lawmakers.
Caught between feeling like kids in a candy shop, their favourite libations now finally legal, and a need to maintain a level head amid its collapse, state lawmakers hastily threw together a menagerie of laws designed to maintain order.
Some were practical, necessary even, while others were simply unexplainable and by today’s standards throughly redundant. Evidently, drunken moose were such a problem in Alaska that serving them alcohol had to be outlawed.
Today, most of the more quirky laws that remain serve as a somewhat comical nod to America’s long and winding relationship with alcohol.
Click through to discover some of the strangest alcohol laws still in place today…
Have we missed any? Leave a comment below.
Has that moose been drinking?
In Alaska it is illegal to serve alcoholic beverages to a moose. While i’m sure cracking open a beer with a moose is not high on most people’s list of priorities, it seems the notion of preventing drunken moose is a wise one. Earlier this year Swedish authorities watched on as a “severely drunk” moose struggled to free itself after getting stuck in a tree after eating too many fermented apples. Happily, the 1,500 pound moose was eventually able to slide itself out of the tree to sleep off its inevitable hangover.
Likewise, giving alcohol to a fish is outlawed in Ohio
If you’re planning to spike your fish tank with vodka anytime soon, make sure you aren’t in Ohio when you do it where it is illegal to give booze to fish. Why lawmakers felt the need to write this into their books in the first place is unknown, much like the aforementioned moose legislation.
Your children can legally drink in Alaska
In Alaska it is legal for minors to drink, as long as they are not in a bar and or restaurant and have the permission of their parents or guardians. The purchasing of alcohol by minors is prohibited, however youth may purchase alcohol for “law enforcement purposes”, perhaps to catch out retailers not regularly checking IDs.
Oklahoma wants to you drink warm beer
Looking to enjoy a cold beer with an abv or more than 4% on a hot day? Unless you have the patience to wait for your refrigerator to do its work, don’t go to Oklahoma for a cold beer. For some unknown reason, the sale of refrigerated beer with an abv of more than 4% is prohibited. Instead, beer must be sold at room temperature. If you are after a pre-chilled brew, your choices will be somewhat limited.
Cocktail? I’ll just slip behind my iron curtain
Sounding more like a magical doorway to Narnia than a practical partition to obscure the dark art of mixology, the Zion curtain is a legal requirement unique to the state of Utah. The curtain conceals bartenders from their customers, shielding the offensive art from those who would rather not consume alcohol. It was thought they would help to combat excessive drinking, however in May 2009 Utah governor Jon Huntsman signed legislation allowing existing restaurants to remove the partition, although future restaurants would be required to prepare alcoholic drinks outside of their patron’s immediate view.
Thinking of skipping out on your tab? Not in Iowa!
The days of patrons running up tabs over several weeks, months, years even are over; especially if you happen to live in Iowa. Here it is actually illegal to run a tab, with patrons required by law to pay their debts before leaving the premises. Handy for bar owners, not so handy for thirsty, penniless patrons.
Last minute Christmas booze run? I don’t think so..
Whatever you do make sure that your booze stocks don’t run dry on Christmas day in Arkansas. The sale of alcohol is banned on 25th so stock up on egg nog and mulled wine in advance and hunker down for the day. Similar bans are in place in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi and New Mexico.
Wine vending machine? Yes please.
In Pennsylvania you could buy wine from a vending machine during a year’s trial by the state’s liquor board, a concept which was ultimately scrapped. Equipped with a breathalyser and ID scanner, the high-tech state-owned machines could detect if you have already had one too many or are stealing someone else’s identity to procure booze. Pennsylvania is an alcoholic beverage control state and has been since the repeal of Prohibition, which means that wine and spirits can only be sold by state-owned shops with prices consistent throughout.
Happy hour? What happy hour?
If you were hoping to cash in on a two-for-one Margarita in Massachusetts you will be sorely disappointed. Massachusetts was one of the first US states to introduce a state-wide ban on “happy hours” in 1984 for “heath and safety” reasons. Its laws also prohibit bar staff delivering “more than two drinks to one person at one time.” Several other US states have since followed suit with varying restrictions. In 2011, Utah introduced a state-wide ban on happy hours. More happily, the legal time period allowed for happy hour was actually extended from two to four hours in Pennsylvania in 2011, while in 2012 a 26-year-ban on happy hour was finally lifted in Kansas.
Saucy wine bottle labels? Not in Alabama, thank you very much.
Don’t even think about plastering any nudity onto your wine bottle in Alabama, where the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board jealously guards its right to prohibit labels with “a person posed in an immoral or sensuous manner”. This particular wine label caused outrage in 2009 and was banned for being “pornographic”. The furore only served to further advertise the wine to the masses boosting its sales and affirming why naked ladies are often plastered on wine bottles in the first place. Four wines are produced under the Cycles Gladiator label – Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.