Bizarre Booze Laws Around the United States


The United States is often called a collection of different countries and not just one unified country. This can be seen in a lot of ways. The way Medicaid is dealt with, what speed limits are imposed and where and how alcohol is served and sold are all left to the states to determine. For business who want to sell alcohol, there are different ways to get the right licenses. Some states require businesses to take ABC classes to get the right ABC permits, while others do not.

The granting of ABC permits is not the only way states can differ in how they treat booze. Here are some of the more strange laws that govern alcohol.

  • If you like wine from the Fat Bastard vineyard, you will be unhappy in Texas and Ohio. Both states have banned the wine because they think the name is offensive.
  • You need to be careful when it comes to giving animals alcohol. Alaska has made it illegal to give the substance to moose. Ohio has banned giving booze to fish, at least if you have given the fish enough to get it drunk.
  • Colorado has very specific laws that govern the amounts of booze you can buy. If you want wine, it has to be sold in containers with at least 24 ounces. If you want to buy liquor, you need to get at least a fifth of a gallon. If you are at your hotel, you can only keep the mini-bottles of booze in your mini-bar refrigerator. Remember, this is also the state that has made pot legal.
  • If you want to sell beer in Nebraska at your bar, you need to also sell soup. Preferably from a big pot.
  • Utah has some interesting laws, which should not come as a big surprise. Given the large Mormon population, they do not drink alcohol or coffee, it makes sense. They do allow people to buy two drinks but prohibit the sale of a “double.” They also require people who are drinking to order some food with it. This is also the only state to have set the legal limit for a person’s blood alcohol level at .05% vs. the .08% allowed everywhere else.
  • If you want a gift wine bag, you will be out of luck in New York. They allow people to buy a lot of wine items. You are ok buying whatever kind of wine, glasses for wine, corkscrews to open the wine and stoppers to keep it fresh. Any store that sells a wine gift bag can face up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Texas really does not want its residents to brew their own beer. They banned the Encyclopedia Britannica set because you can find at least one recipe to brew the substance at home. Maybe they have not heard of the internet where there are tons of those.
  • If you have a large party celebrating in Florida, do not get a larger champagne bottle. While in most places, you can get bottles called Salamanazars, Nebuchadnezzars or Balthazars. They are all illegal in the Sunshine State.
  • California does not ban certain kinds of alcohol but it is picky about where in a store it can be placed, For gas stations that sell booze, the displays must be kept at least five feet from the register.
  • Some cities have their own rules for alcohol consumption as well. If you like to drink your beer or ale from a bucket, do not try that in St. Louis, Missouri. At least do not sit on the curb when you do it because that can land you in jail.

While the way they handle things such as ABC permits is left to the states, the federal government does have some ways to control what states do. For instance, the drinking age is 21 years old in all 50 states. Louisiana allows parents or guardians of minors under 21 to buy it for them but they cannot purchase it themselves.

Businesses who want to sell liquor, beer or wine should check with their state government to find out what, if any, ABC permits they need and what the process is to get them. Each state can set the procedures and the cost for ABC licenses and permits for local businesses.