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19 States with Weird Laws About Wine and Liquor

Grab a drink as we break down America's insanely weird laws about wine, beer and liquor. Cheers!

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Alcoholic cocktail row on bar table, colorful party drinksAleksandrs Muiznieks/Shutterstock

Massachusetts

No Happy Hour

Not in Massachusetts. The home of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots forbids happy hour as a public safety measure. We understand the logic—people can get wild during happy hour, after all—but we’d miss the drink specials!

See what else Massachusetts is known for.

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An elderly African American man holds his “I voted” sticker after he cast his ballot in Washington, DC.Eileen Salazar/Shutterstock

South Carolina

No Alcohol on Election Day

Election Day is exciting but stressful, so people may want to unwind with a beverage in hand. But up until 2014, South Carolina banned the sale of all alcohol on Election Day. Why? The state thought politicians might bribe citizens with free drinks. Here are 10 things your bartender wishes you’d stop doing (for all of the other days of the year).

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lcoholic beverages department in a supermarket, beers of various .producersRonald Rampsch/Shutterstock

Oklahoma

Beer Must Be Room Temperature

Anyone who wants to crack open a cold beer in Oklahoma will be in for a rude awakening. According to state law, beer with 4% alcohol by volume (so pretty much all beer) needs to be sold at room temperature at liquor stores. It’s OK—beer of any temp will still taste great in our 40 best recipes to make with beer.

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Customer get bill and receipt from waiter in restaurant.Sara_K/Shutterstock

Iowa

You Must Pay Bar Tabs in Full

Here’s a law we can get behind! In Iowa, patrons are allowed to start a tab at a bar, but bartenders must make sure tabs have been paid in full before customers leave. It would save you from accidentally forgetting your card at the bar. Psst! Here is your signature drink, based on your zodiac sign.

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Cold, clear, light beer with foam in a faceted glass on the table with snacks in the pubKucher Serhii/Shutterstock

Utah

No Drinks Without Food

The Beehive State will only let you purchase drinks at a restaurant if you’re buying food, too. In most cases, a bar is categorized differently, so you don’t have to order munchies there—though it’s never a bad idea to chow down on some wings or nachos.

Find the best pub food in every U.S. state.

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Wide selection of domestic and imported beer on shelf display in a convenient storeKenishirotie/Shutterstock

Alabama

No Beer Larger Than 25.4 Oz.

Up until 2012, stores in Alabama were prohibited from selling beer bottles of 16 oz. or more. Today, the Heart of Dixie permits up to 25.4 oz.

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Club Sandwich with a Glass of Beer on a Table. Fast food.Dreamer Company/Shutterstock

Indiana

No Booze Without Food

According to Indiana state law, places that sell individual drinks (think cocktails and pints of beer) must also offer soup, sandwiches, milk, coffee and soft drinks. The next time you’re in Indiana, order an ooey-gooey panini with your beverage of choice.

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Top view of coffee, juice, fruit, bread and meat on tablestockcreations/Shutterstock

New York

No Drinks on Sunday Morning

They say that New York City is the city that never sleeps, but its bartenders do take some much-deserved rest. In fact, restaurants cannot serve alcoholic beverages until 10 o’clock in the morning on Sundays. Keep that in mind when you’re booking a brunch!

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hand holding red pen over proofreading text in officeLamai Prasitsuwan/Shutterstock

Arkansas

Underage Drinkers Have to Pen Essays

Like the rest of the country, Arkansas’ legal drinking age is 21; however, the repercussions for underage boozin’ in this state are kind of unusual. In addition to paying a fine, minors caught drinking need to write an essay about alcohol for school.

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The company of young people celebrate St. Patrick's Day.VGstockstudio/Shutterstock

Maine

No Drinking Games

You can’t play drinking games in any of Maine’s bars. The state law prohibits “any game or contest that involves drinking,” so no beer pong here. Maine also prohibits alcohol sales before nine o’clock in the morning on Sundays, except St. Patrick’s Day.

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Group of friends having drinks at the night club party.Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Texas

You Have to Take a Seat

Rumor has it Texas law makes it illegal to have more than three sips of your drink standing up. So kick back, relax and enjoy your beverage from the comfort of a couch or barstool.

Don’t miss all our favorite things about Texas!

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Bartender hand pouring alcoholic drink in nightclub, bar or pub.Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

Tennessee

No Whiskey Tastings

Jack Daniel’s famous whiskey distillery is located in Moore County, a dry county in Tennessee. Up until recently, distillery guests were treated to a class of cool, mouth-watering lemonade after the tour! Fortunately, visitors are now able to have a taste of the good stuff.

Bring the flavor home with one of our favorite recipes: bacon whiskey jam.

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Barman is decorating cocktail with rocket no faceMaksim Fesenko/Shutterstock

Virginia

Happy Hour Has Rules

While Virginia law does allow happy hours, bars and restaurants are required to follow some strict rules. For example, they can only advertise with the phrases “drinks specials” or “happy hour.” Plus, 2-for-1 drink specials are off-limits.

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Collection of old license plates displayed on a wooden wall.Eblis/Shutterstock

New Jersey

No Vanity Plates

Drinking and driving should never be tolerated, but New Jersey has some pretty wacky consequences for getting behind the wheel. Not only do you (understandably) have to pay a fine, but you are also disqualified from receiving a personalized vanity license plate.

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Various bottles of craft, microbrew, IPA, domestic and imported beers from around the world on shelf display in supermarket cooler.Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

Florida

No Beer Sales Before Hurricanes

You might want to rethink drinking your way through a hurricane. Several counties in Florida have placed bans on beer sales leading up to and during a state emergency. We can appreciate Florida’s commitment to safety.

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Group of three young horses on the pastureGrigorita Ko/Shutterstock

Colorado

You Have to Leave the Horse at Home

In Colorado, it’s illegal to ride a horse under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The law may seem random at first, but it makes sense. Like cars, horses are vehicles that could seriously hurt people.

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Friends toasting, saying cheers holding tropical blended fruit margaritas.Cabeca de Marmore/Shutterstock

Alaska

You Have to Stay Sober

Pace yourself, folks. It doesn’t matter whether you show up inebriated or had a few too many drinks, it’s illegal to be drunk in an Alaskan bar. To make matters worse, a new law suggests law authorities can arrest you and hold you in jail until you sober up. That must be one nasty hangover!

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Aerial view of Las Vegas strip in Nevada as seen at night USAf11photo/Shutterstock

Nevada

You Can Buy Liquor at Any Time

Unlike Alaska, it’s actually not illegal to be publicly drunk in Nevada. According to state law, drunkenness is a health problem, not a legal woe. But Nevada isn’t doing very much to keep the booze at bay: The state lets bars stay open 24 hours and makes liquor available in grocery and convenience stores.

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An unidentified local jazz band performs in the New Orleans French QuarterGTS Productions/Shutterstock

Louisiana

Bars Stay Open 24/7

It may feel like most states have cracked down on liquor laws, but anything goes in Louisiana. Take New Orleans, for example. Not only does the Big Easy permit public drinking, but it also allows bars to stay open 24/7. There are even drive-thrus selling daiquiris!

Kelsey Mulvey
Kelsey Mulvey is a freelance writer and editor based in New York. Her hobbies include wine, nachos and the occasional hibachi dinner.
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