Alcohol and Drinking Facts in States across the U.S.
About two of every three counties in Alabama are dry. That is, they prohibit the production, distribution and sale of any alcoholic beverages.
However, Alabama permits the sale of fireworks, tobacco and firearms and it does so with virtually no restrictions or regulations.
For example, there is no state permit required to purchase or carry rifles and shotguns, no licensing of owners of rifles or shotguns, and no registration of such deadly weapons. Similarly, there is no state permit needed to purchase a handgun, no licensing of handgun owners, and no registration of handguns. Even young children can carry and use dangerous firearms. 1
Alabamans apparently view a drink as more dangerous than fireworks, tobacco, or rifles, shotguns and pistols. Is a drink in the hand of a mature adult more dangerous than a gun in the hand of an immature child?
The Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control recently raided a weekly senior citizens’ garden party within a gated community in Mesa. Agents seized the alcoholic beverages and wrote a citation for selling alcohol without a license.
Perhaps the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control has too many officers and too much time on its hands. Or perhaps this over zealous enforcement is simply a reflection of the growing anti-alcohol movement in the United States. 4
Temperance members of the Russellville City council in Arkansas approved a motion censoring any discussion of legalizing alcohol sales during budget sessions. The motion was passed after the city's Revenue Task Force suggested legalizing alcohol sales.
It appears that the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protection of free speech won't apply Russellville's council as long as temperance-minded officials have their way. 5
It is a violation of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Act for producers of alcohol beverages to list the names of retailers or restaurants that sell their products in advertising or even in newsletters. 6
If it’s bad for producers, it’s even worse for servers in California, where they can be convicted of selling to a minor if the purchaser uses a false or altered ID to buy the alcohol. 7
More lunacy in California: An award-winning adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood was withdrawn from a recommended reading list by the school board in Culver City, California, simply because the heroine had included a bottle of wine in the basket she brought to her grandmother. 8
Colorado law requires that wine be sold in containers of at least 24 ounces and spirits in containers at least a fifth of a gallon. But, at the same time, it also decrees that no alcohol beverage can be stored in hotel minibars in anything larger than miniature containers. 9 Ward Churchill must be teaching logic now.
Connecticut is the only state in the northeast that hasn’t yet abolished Colonial-era Blue Laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol beverages on Sundays. 10
In addition, druggists in Connecticut must pay $400.00 each year for a license in order to use alcohol in compounding prescriptions. 11 Perhaps that’s why medications are so expensive in the state.
A traveler through the Delaware Valley in 1753 compiled a list of the drinks he encountered; all but three of the 48 contained alcohol. 12
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The District of Columbia has decriminalized underage drinking, making consumption of alcohol by those under age 21 a civil rather than criminal offense. Offenders will no longer be arrested and carry a criminal record for life.
The new legislation was passed because, although underage drinking had been decriminalized in 1997, police had continued to arrest young people for what was no longer a crime.
Neighboring Maryland has also decriminalized possession and consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 21. 13
Don't plan on using any of the celebratory Champagne bottle sizes known as Methuselahs, Salamanazars, Balthazars or Nebuchadnezzars. These very traditional Champagne bottle sizes are all illegal in Florida. 14
Georgia's Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington has handed down a decision calling the city of Atlanta's and the state of Georgia's ordinances against Sunday bar openings unconstitutional. 15
Idaho's Driver's Manual misleads license applicants, stating that "The combination of drinking and driving accounts for approximately half of all fatal accidents. Alcohol Kills over 25,000 people a year on U.S. highways." 16 Not so.
The actual proportion of alcohol-related accidents is about 38% and the number of fatalities is also overstated by about two-thirds. Even worse, the manual converts alcohol-related into "accounts for." But alcohol-related does not mean caused by alcohol.
For example, when a person who has drunk some alcohol is waiting at a stop light and is rear-ended by a completely sober but careless driver, the resulting accident is considered an alcohol-related crash, although alcohol had nothing at all to do with causing it.
Of course, a single alcohol-caused accident is too many and we need to continue our progress in reducing these needless tragedies. To learn more visit Drinking and Driving.
Legislators in Illinois are preparing to consider a new law to lower the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving from .08 down to .06.
Almost one-half of all fatally injured drinking drivers have a BAC of .20 or over. That’s three and one-third times higher than the proposed maximum BAC. Supporters insist that the cut would be only a small step in the right direction. Activists have already begun pushing for reductions down to .04 and .02. 17
It's illegal in Indiana for liquor stores to sell milk or cold soft drinks. They can, however, sell unrefrigerated soft drinks. 18
Iowa has it’s share of temperance-oriented laws, of which here is a sample:
- It’s illegal to run a “tab.” 19
- If a law enforcement officer is having a drink in a bar in Iowa and an employee pours water down the drain, the water is legally considered an alcohol beverage intended for unlawful purposes. 20
- It’s no easier after work. An owner or employee of an establishment in Iowa that sells alcohol can't even legally consume a drink there after closing for business. 21
An Attorney General of Kansas issued the legal opinion that drinking on an airliner was forbidden by state law while the plane was in airspace over "dry" Kansas. He said that "Kansas goes all the way up and all the way down," His opinion was widely ridiculed in legal circles 22 but would probably have been hailed by Carrie Nation, who started her hatchet attacks against bars in Kansas.
Bourbon takes its name from Bourbon County in Kentucky, where it was first produced in 1789 by a Baptist minister. 23 Nevertheless, a person can be sent to jail for five years for merely sending a bottle of beer, wine or spirits as a gift to a friend in Kentucky. 24 Yes, even if it’s a bottle of bourbon.
Louisiana law prohibits bars and restaurants from displaying any alcohol beverage brand name that can be seen from outside the establishment. 25
A bill has been introduced to reduce Maine’s illegal threshold for driving down to .04, which is one-half the current level.
The average BAC of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Maine is .18%. That’s four and a half times higher than the proposed limit. 26
Maryland now requires that alcohol beverage writers be certified as experts by an agency of the state before they can receive product samples, which it limits to three bottles per brand. 27
The Pilgrims landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, rather than continue sailing because they were running out of supplies, especially alcohol beverage. 28 Later, a brewery was one of Harvard College's first construction projects so that a steady supply of beer could be served in the student dining halls. 29
It's illegal in Michigan for a person under the age of 21 to give a gift of alcohol beverage to anyone, even to a person of legal age. 30
Permitting diners to take home an unfinished bottle of alcohol beverage, rather than consuming it all before leaving to prevent "waste," encourages moderation and discourages intoxication. However, this is strictly prohibited in Michigan. 31
Public intoxication is a crime in Pennsylvania but specifically not a crime in Minnesota. 32
Mississippi is uniquely temperance-oriented. It imposed state-wide alcohol prohibition in 1907, over a dozen years before the rest of the country. It was the very first state to ratify the 18th Amendment to create National Prohibition. Following national rejection of Prohibition through Repeal in 1933, the state maintained its own state-wide prohibition for another one-third of a century. After that, it specifically “reaffirmed prohibition” when it decided to permit local option regarding alcohol.
Today, almost one-half of the counties in Mississippi are "dry" with their own prohibition against the production, advertising, sale, distribution, or transportation of alcoholic beverages within their boundaries. It is even illegal to bring alcohol through a dry county in Mississippi while traveling across the country in the process of, for example, moving a personal wine or spirits collection to one's new residence. 33
Anyone under the age of 21 who takes out household trash containing even a single empty alcohol beverage container can be charged with illegal possession of alcohol in Missouri. 34
Judges doubt the legality of a new law in Montana that punishes parents if their offspring are charged with an alcohol offence. Supreme Court observers believe that courts can’t legally punish parents who have done nothing wrong and are innocent of any crime.
Prosecutors say the law may prompt legal challenge and litigation.
The law resembles an edict passed by the Communist Party in the former Soviet Union during the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, which similarly held parents responsible for the delinquent acts of their children. That law was abolished long ago. 35
Nebraska state law prohibits bars from selling beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup. 36
Using alcohol in cooking is an essential part of being fully trained and prepared to enter the workforce as a professional chef. However, New Hampshire law prohibits alcoholic beverages from school grounds. Therefore, State Representative Jane Clemons sponsored a bill to enable culinary arts students to use alcoholic beverages in their cooking classes.
The proposed law would provide safeguards to ensure that the alcohol would not be used inappropriately and would be properly secured under lock and key when not in use for classes. It would also require parental notification that alcohol would be an ingredient permitted in cooking and baking classes.
The legislation failed. Earlier, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), had strongly objected to wine tasting being permitted in collegiate culinary classes, even though the beverage would not be swallowed. 37
Princeton University officials confiscated T-shirts bearing slogans sympathetic to playing alcohol drinking games, in violation of students’ Constitutional rights to free speech.
“This is just censorship of speech, and the University, especially as an academic community that values academic freedom, should not be censoring speech,” said Dr. Andrew Appel, professor of computer science. “The confiscation of printed materials before they can be distributed constitutes prior restraint which is a very severe form of censorship” 5 He emphasized that “Prior restraint of a publication (the T-shirts) is really antithetical to the academic values of a university.” 38
The Belden Tribune (NM) reports that alcohol sales to minors are a serious problem throughout the entire state of New Mexico. The editor of the paper declares that “the sheriff should wake up and catch one or two of these lawbreakers and have them hauled up before the court” to serve as examples to all others who are exploiting young people. He also urges parents to provide help to law enforcement authorities in identifying those who are providing alcohol to underage drinkers.
All of this is reported in issues of The Belden Tribune published in 1909. 39
The longest recorded champagne cork flight was 177 feet and 9 inches, four feet from level ground at Woodbury Vineyards in New York State. 40
State law of North Dakota prohibits serving beer and pretzels at the same time in any bar or restaurant. 42
Although the French wine, "Fat Bastard," is now distributed in states across the US., Ohio has banned its sale within their borders. 43 Not only does Ohio try to protect young and impressionable children who presumably never watch TV and don‘t have peers, but it also tries to protect its fish. State law prohibits getting a fish drunk. 44
The University of Oklahoma now bans any consumption of alcohol in dorms and fraternity houses, even by students of legal age. “Is this going to stop people from drinking?“ asked a local police officer. “No. You are just displacing the problem somewhere else.” The well-intentioned policy has already driven much drinking off campus into uncontrolled locations.
There will probably be other unintended effects as well. A senior student pointed out that people will continue to drink but that the consequences would be different. She observed that “people used to trip and fall on their way home, now they’re going to smash into each other in their cars.”
The University‘s legal responsibility for protecting student safety extends beyond the campus. To the extent that the university shifts drinking off campus into uncontrolled environments it increases the dangers to students and also increases its exposure to legal liability.
Many colleges and universities prefer to provide safe drinking environments on campus where potential harm can be reduced and students can be more effectively protected. Many schools have also established social norms programs that reduce both the consumption and the abuse of alcohol. 45
In Pennsylvania the tax on wine and spirits is called the Jamestown Flood tax because it was imposed in 1936 to raise funds to help the city of Jamestown rebuild and recover from a devastating flood that year. The city of Jamestown quickly rebuilt and recovered but the tax still continues. It currently costs the taxpayers of the state over $160,000,000.00 each year. 46
Rhode Island never ratified the 18 Amendment establishing Prohibition. 47
Some Tennessee state rules regulating alcohol advertising are violations of First Amendment free speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, according to a legal opinion issued by the Tennessee Attorney General’s office.
In spite of that official legal opinion, the state continues enforcing its apparently unconstitutional restrictions on free speech. 49
Of Texas' 254 counties, 79 are still completely dry seven decades after the Repeal of Prohibition. Many of the remaining counties are "moist" or partially dry. Some permit one form of alcohol beverage but not another, some prohibit on-premise consumption (except for private clubs), some permit (believe it or not) on-premise but no off-premise consumption, and some have other strange variations, often directly across the street from each other. 50
The county in Texas with the highest DWI arrests among young drivers is "dry;" that is, prohibits the sale of alcohol. 51
Texas state law prohibits taking more than three sips of beer at a time while standing. 52
Utah apparently ties with Mississippi for temperance laws. Here are some examples:
- Don’t swallow in Utah! Wine used in wine tastings in Utah must not be swallowed! 53
- There are no ordinary drinking establishments in Utah; full alcohol service is available only to dues-paying members of private social clubs or a limited number of restaurants that can't advertise, display, or mention the availability of alcohol beverages. 54
- It's illegal in Utah to advertise drink prices, alcohol brands, to show a "drinking scene," to promote happy hour, to advertise free food, or for restaurants to furnish alcohol beverage lists unless a customer specifically requests one. 55
Vermont is considering lowering the minimum legal drinking age to 18. The governor “agrees that if 18 is the age at which all citizens are bestowed full rights and privileges of American citizenship it ought to be the legal drinking age.”
However, the federal government threatens to deny the state nearly $10 million dollars annually if it grants its adults the right to drink alcoholic beverages. 56
George Washington was apparently the largest distiller of whiskey in the new American nation during the late 1700s. In 1798, the year before his death, Washington’s distillery at Mount Vernon produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey and produced a profit of $7,500. That was an enormous sum of money over 200 years ago. 57
A new state law now specifically prohibits alcohol breath test readings from being barred from court just because they might be invalid or incorrect. The law makes it easier to get questionable, possibly inaccurate, breath-test readings admitted into court. 58
Apparently, prosecutors want to increase their conviction rates, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the citizens suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
In West Virginia, bars can advertise alcohol beverage prices, but not brand names. 59
In Wisconsin, an adult under the age of 21 who is married to one age 21 or older can legally drink with his or her spouse.
State Rep. John Ainsworth doesn't like the idea at all and wants to eliminate the right of conjugal consumption. 60
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