Belly Up: the 5 Strangest “Booze Laws” on the Books

Image credit: Thinkprogress.org
Alcohol, for better or worse, has long fueled American history. Aside from that period of temporary insanity known as Prohibition, booze has been the veritable undercurrent of day-to-day life. What would a wedding be without the toasts? What would a ballgame be without pint after pint of overpriced, watery beer and to wash down the arterial assault of dawgs and chili fries? And what would Kentucky be without bourbon? (Not much, really … ) As much as most Americans love booze, though, it is still just about the most heavily regulated legal substance in America. And a lot of the laws are so bizarre that they simply must have been thought up by people who were really, really drunk.

5 Open Containers of Alcohol Are Legal in New Orleans

In New Orleans, open containers of alcohol are legal on city streets as long as they are “unbreakable,” meaning in shatter-resistant plastic containers. This is also true in downtown Las Vegas, on historic Beale Street in Memphis, in much of Savannah, Georgia, and anywhere in the city of Butte, Montana. Public drunkenness, however, is technically illegal in these places, so keep your open container consumption in the fairway, friends.

4 Minnesota Law Designates Drunkenness as Not Being a Crime

A 1999 Minnesota law, statute 340A.902, specifically designates drunkenness as not being a crime. Whereas many states (most, in fact) have public intoxication laws on the books, wherein someone can be arrested merely for being drunk in a public space even if causing no other harm, Minnesota took the noble step of officially saying it’s OK to be drunk!

3 It is Illegal to Sell Alcohol on Election Days in Kentucky and South Carolina

In the states of Kentucky and South Carolina, it is illegal to sell alcohol on election days. Does that make any sense to anyone? Do elections really drive people to drink (other than the candidates, of course)? And are South Carolinian and Kentuckian voters really likely to grab a bottle of white lightning and go stumbling over to their local polling place like “Ah, I was gonna vote for that one guy I’ve been supporting and all, but hell with it, I’m drunk – Green Party it is!”

2 Happy Hours Are Illegal in the State of Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, happy hours are illegal. In fact, all discounts, deals, and drink specials are against the law – bars and restaurants can’t offer temporary reduced pricing of their beverages. Stranger still, this law dates not from the 19th century or Prohibition – it was implemented rather recently, in the year 1984.

1 It is Illegal to Sell Booze in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, it is illegal to sell booze on the following holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We can deal with Memorial Day and Labor Day if we have to, but the Fourth of July without beer? Thanksgiving without wine? Christmas without a snifter of brandy, or ten? That’s not regulating alcohol sales, it’s restricting happiness, and that is unconstitutional, Oklahoma.
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