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Weird Drinking Laws of the USA

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The United States has its fair share of weird laws (what is up with having to pay taxes?), but there are few laws that achieve the level of oddness that certain American drinking laws attain. Underage folks may find the “21 and over” rule to be weird. People wanting to buy beer seven days a week may find the fact that liquor stores are closed on Sundays in many states to be strange. Those who like to stroll around a park with an uncorked bottle of wine may find it bizarre that open containers of alcohol aren’t allowed in many areas. But, the oddness that the above laws emit is nothing compared to the peculiarities of those below:   

Don’t Use the “R” Word: According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BAFT), the word “refreshing” can’t be utilized when describing alcohol beverages. That forces us, the alcohol consumers, to describe beer as brisk, gin as invigorating, and wine as reviving. That’s right BAFT, we have a thesaurus.

When in Rome, Don’t Act Like You Are: Thanks to the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act, an underage student studying abroad is forbidden from drinking alcohol, even if they are in a country where they meet the drinking age requirements. Of course, this sort of defeats the purpose of studying abroad altogether: what’s the point of drinking in a different culture if you aren’t allowed to be drinking in a different culture.

Bring Cash and Coins to Des Moines:  In Iowa, it’s illegal to start a tab at a bar. This is a concept that undoubtedly leaves out of town patrons a-maized. Sorry, that was corny.

Texas Told ’em Not to Buy a Reference Book: In Texas, the complete Encyclopedia Britannica collection is banned because one of the volumes contains a homemade beer recipe. We aren’t positive, but we think any Texan caught with this encyclopedia will probably get the death penalty.

No Drinking with the Fishes:  In Ohio, the law states that it is illegal to get a fish drunk. Apparently, the “drinks like a fish” saying doesn’t apply to the marine life in this region. You can give a carp or a trout the worm, but you better drink the bottle of tequila all by yourself.

A Women’s Consent: Pennsylvania law prohibits a man from buying alcohol without a note of permission from his wife. This has turned women’s liberation into women’s libation and, not surprisingly, left many Pennsylvania men single.   

Three At A Time: The law of Texas states that no person can consume more than three sips of beer at a time if they are standing up. But, if they are falling over or stumbling around, then that may be a different story.

Unfair for Fairbanks Moose:  In Fairbanks, Alaska, it is against the law to give a moose any kind of alcohol. This could be because moose don’t know when to say when or because they simply are lightweights. For whatever reason this law exists, the Alaskan moose consider it “bull.”

Obviously, the above laws are rarely – if ever – enforced in the industry of wine and spirits. This is for the better: those of us who love wine and beer would never be able to adhere to the above regulations. A world of alcohol that didn’t allow us to go out drinking with the boys, the girls, and the Alaskan wildlife just wouldn’t be the same.

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About Jenn Jordan

  • STM

    Imagine my shock and surprise as a 20-year-old, arriving for the first time in the US from Australia, where I had been of legal drinking age for nearly three years, to be told in some states I couldn’t go to a bar for the legal consumption of alcohol. I could, however, be tried as an adult, drive a car, and just like in Oz, be shipped off to Vietnam if I a) volunteered or b) became a US citizen.

    But fuck me, on a holiday to the US, all I wanted to do was get on the piss. Very disappointing, it was.

  • Dr Dreadful

    My first time in the US, I was in TGI Fridays and got carded when I tried to order a beer. I thought, “You have got to be kidding me.” I was 34.

    America. They’ll give you a driver’s license as soon as you’re old enough to say “Da-Da”, drape an ammo belt and an AK-47 on you in kindergarten… but won’t trust you near a fermented beverage without six references and a clean criminal record.

  • See the horrors religion has wrought?

    The wierd drinking laws are thanks to those damn Puritans the poms kicked out…

  • LMAO

  • x3n0s

    Most of this article is completely false. There has never been a law in Texas regarding the Encyclopedia Britannica being banned. It is legal in Texas to brew your own beer, and there are many businesses that cater to this hobby’s needs. Texas didn’t even have an open container law until a couple of years ago.

    The first rule in this article is meant for advertising only. You can call things in America whatever you want.

    I don’t have time to check the rest of the article, something the author should have done, but I assume the rest of it is just as uninformed, not researched, and not worth the bandwidth it took to get to this blog.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Maybe JJ got it from The Bathroom Reader.

  • sb

    yup – driving from Dallas to Ft. worth in 1981 was a two beer trip on the LBJ highway…

  • I’ve been invigorated by gin; but only had to be revived after wine, not by it.
    More research is needed on my part I think…


  • STM

    Clav wrote: “See the horrors religion has wrought?
    The wierd drinking laws are thanks to those damn Puritans the poms kicked out…”

    Can you imagine the uproar regarding similar laws and a change to the sensible legal drinking age (18) in a nation where the Poms sent their rogues, thieves, conmen, Irishmen, prostitutes, women of ill-repute and general all-round party people (“I’m transporting you to Australia for the term of your natural life” .. “No please, your Honour, ‘ang me instead, I beg you. I’ll be dead anyway from exhaustion and liver failure within a year. Do they sell condoms?”)

    And HH, much more research is always called for on the benefits of various kinds of alcohol, methinks. We have a saying Down Under: it’s always a good day for the high stool.

  • sr

    To drink or not to drink. My friend Capt Morgan tells me rum is the fruit of the vine. When I lived in Idaho the state law stated if we left the local pub we could take our drink with us like a to go container. After 6 DUI’S I decided this was not a smart thing. Now Im confined to my PC just drinking Cap Morgan and watching the fucking birds fly by out my office window. Life is good. Maybe tomorrow I might blow my brains out.

  • Soo

    Wine is better than beer!

  • Christopher

    I am a 14 year old boy from norway.. A country who has a quite diffrent alcoholculture..
    I`ve been drinking once a week since i was 13..
    So the consept of a 21 year drinking age is to me not so far from rediculess..

  • Cindy D

    x3n0s, you must be a real fun date to take to the comedy club.

  • Cindy D

    Christopher what are you doing up so late? Surfing around in old threads and making me respond to people who could have died a year ago?

  • bliffle

    ‘sr’ is gone, as I understand it. Whatever the reason.

    SO we’ll go no more a roving
    So late into the night,
    Though the heart be still as loving,
    And the moon be still as bright. –
    For the sword outwears its sheath,
    And the soul wears out the breast,
    And the heart must pause to breathe,
    And Love itself have rest. –
    Though the night was made for loving,
    And the day returns too soon,
    Yet we’ll go no more a roving
    By the light of the moon. – –

  • YourSiteSucks

    Iowan here.. you can start a tab anywhere. Nice fact checking.