Drinking too much can make people do some crazy things. It can also make governments try to regulate that drinking in some odd ways. For as long as there have been written laws in the United States, lawmakers have gone out of their way to write some strange ones. And while some of those lawmakers have gotten around to repealing a few of the more outdated ones (thank goodness you can finally give alcohol to a moose in Alaska!), here are the most eyebrow-raising alcohol laws in the country.
No sexy labels. The Alabama administrative code says, “no advertisement may include illustrations of any person consuming alcoholic beverages or any person posed in an immodest or sensuous manner…” Only ankle length skirts on their whiskey bottles please.
It’s illegal to be drunk in a bar. Sorry if you think that’s the point of going to a bar in the first place. Several years ago, plainclothes officers even began arresting Alaskans for in-bar intoxication.
The governor can ban alcohol sales during a hurricane. Actually, that’s probably for the best. You don’t need people trying to play beer pong during a Category 4.
Towns may only have one bar per 1,500 citizens. That means that according to the census, there are more than 150 places in Idaho only allowed to have a single bar.
Tabs are illegal. In Iowa, you can leave a credit card with the bartender, but what you can’t do is walk into a bar, order a drink and say “put it on my tab” like you’re Norm from Cheers. Any extension of credit without a bona fide credit card is against the law.
A person is not considered drunk until they “cannot hold on to the ground” any more. What exactly does that mean? It means that legislatures should update the language on their books at least once every 120 years.
You can’t put a straw in a drive-through Daiquiri. The state is famous for its drive-through Daiquiri shops, but in an attempt to reduce the dangers involved with drinking and driving after buying one, the state decided straws could not be inserted into the cups. If a straw is inserted, the Daiquiri is considered an open container and that’s a no-no.
The only time a bar can sell alcohol before 9 a.m. on a Sunday is if that Sunday is also St. Patrick’s Day. Then bars can start selling at 6 a.m. This is thanks to Governor Paul LePage and the Maine legislature helping to push through a special exception to the regular Sunday law against selling booze before 9 a.m. in time for St. Patrick’s Day 2013, which fell on a Sunday.
No happy hours allowed. Since the ‘80s, the state has had it on the books that bars can’t offer free drinks, discounted drinks or encourage any drinking games on the premises. Although, the law is worded such that a drink can’t be discounted from its regular price during the same week. So, if a bar wanted to do a happy month and sell $3 Margaritas all February, they could probably get away with that. Hint, hint, Boston.
Your pint of beer must really be a pint. We don’t use the metric system and we’re damn proud of it! Actually, the type of measure is not important, but the accuracy is. Some bars use what have come to be known as “cheater pints”—glasses with thick bottoms that are the size of a pint glass, but hold less liquid. Several years ago a lawmaker proposed a law specifically banning cheater pints and other similar efforts to short change drinkers, but Michigan’s Weights and Measures Act already prohibited anyone from advertising a different amount of an item than they actually sell.
You can drink and drive. Mississippi is one of a handful states that don’t have any laws against open containers in cars, but they go even further, permitting drivers to drink out of the open container as long their blood alcohol content remains below the legal limit of .08.
No city or municipality can make public intoxication against the law. What happens in Elko, stays in Elko.
Kids can’t witness someone mixing drinks. Until 2009 Utah restaurants were required to have what came to be known as “Zion curtains”—partitions that separated the drinkers from the drink makers. Restaurants were allowed to remove the barriers after a new law under Governor John Huntsman’s administration, but drinks still have to be prepared out of the view of any children, lest they be tempted by alcohol’s siren song.
Ladies’ night is illegal. After a lawsuit in which two men complained that women were getting free drink tickets and they weren’t, ladies’ nights were found to violate the public accommodation law. It’s just as well. Ladies’ nights can be kind of gross anyway.