Weird Drinking Laws in America

While there are many restrictive drinking laws throughout the United States, some states have laws that are not only oddly strict, but strictly odd.

Alcohol has had an odd history in the court of law. During Prohibition, alcohol became illegal, which, it turned out, did little to stop people from drinking. Shocking. As the drinking age creeps higher and higher with the passing years, many people feel constricted when it comes to alcohol laws. However, rest assured that, while alcohol restrictions throughout the United States may be a pain, some states have laws that are not only oddly strict, but strictly odd.

Oklahoma Beer—Served Nice and Warm

Let's roleplay here for a second. You are an out-of-towner, joining your friends at the bar for a fun reunion. Now, you don't know this bartender. You don't want him messing up your regular Manhattan, so you go safe. You order a beer. Sam Adams, specifically. You throw it back, expecting a cool beverage—only to find it's warm. Room temperature. You ask the bartender what's wrong with it, and he responds by grumbling, "Welcome to Oklahoma."

In Oklahoma, it is illegal to serve beer with more than four percent alcohol any cooler than room temperature. This weird drinking law is their way of discouraging people from drinking and driving, since people won't just buy beer from the liquor store (the only alcohol that can be purchased outside of liquor stores are light beers, which are sold in convenience stores and supermarkets) and just throw a few cans back on the road. Because, obviously, alcoholics will only drink cold beer. If it's warm, then clearly they'd never drink it while on the road. 

TL;DR: This weird rule does little to prevent drunk driving.

Alabama Doesn't Like Sexy Ladies on Wine Bottles

Two advertising truths: we judge books by their covers, and sex sells. Many distributors of wine realize this, and so have put sexy labels on their wine to seduce strangers. Okay. Nothing illegal about packaging your wine with well-endowed women or a very sturdy dildo, right?

Wrong! Alabama's modesty laws forbid the public sale of lewd material. This includes lewd wine. Should a bottle be sold with inappropriate images on the front (like, for example, a bare-breasted woman), then the wine can be confiscated and the distributors (and store) can be fined. Immodest wine labels cannot be allowed to corrupt the poor children... who aren't old enough to drink wine.

Bourbon Country Doesn't Have Bourbon

Kentucky is often known as the birthplace of bourbon. The state is almost synonymous with bourbon. Do you know which state is dry, and, therefore, does not sell bourbon? 

What? Why would you say Ohio?

Almost all of Kentucky is dry. There are several counties where alcohol is strictly forbidden. Of course, some counties in Kentucky allow the sale and consumption of alcohol, but most of these counties have a strict limit on how much alcohol can be served. Some, for example, will give you a taste of bourbon—enough to wet your lips, but little more. These weird drinking laws are a holdover from Prohibition, which, yes, did end nationwide back in the 20s after people realized it didn't work. Kentucky lawmakers probably didn't get that memo, though.

Georgia Allows Public Drinking, but Not Being Drunk In Public

This may sound like a confusing law, but bare with us for a moment. You can drink alcohol in public in Georgia. While some cities are a little less accepting of it than others, Georgia's state laws permits citizens to be able to walk outside drinking beer. Talk a stroll, throw back some shots—it's all legal.

Before you start planning that road trip down to Georgia, however, take this into consideration. It is legal to drink in public. It is NOT legal to be drunk in public. Now, most states will issue a fine if you walk around doing stupid stuff while drunk—but this isn't the same thing. This means you can't take your drunk friend to get food—that's illegal. This means you can't walk off your buzz before driving home. This means you can't go OUTSIDE WHILE DRUNK. Period. It is a crime.

So if you're drinking outside in Georgia, don't chug.

Drunken River Rides Are a No

Now we move onto the random laws. Have you ever tried to drink while swimming? I don't mean having a drink on a cruise ship, I mean literally drinking inside a natural body of water. May seem like an odd thing to bring up, but, in Texas, it was illegal to drink while in a river.

Consider the "was" in the prior sentence. The law was repealed in 2014, but there is still much debate on whether or not the law SHOULD have been repealed at all. Texas, of course, has lots of odd laws about alcohol. There are dry counties (though this rule isn't enforced often), and alcohol (between certain hours of the day) can only be served with food, but this is perhaps the oddest of their alcohol laws. It was revoked, however, so now all those Texan canoeists can throw back a few while paddling across the rapids. Yay.

There Will Be No Happiness In Boston

Massachusetts remains one of the cornerstones of American society. So much of what makes America the country that it is originated from the city of Boston. Yet it lacks one of the great American drinking traditions.

Happy Hour.

There is no Happy Hour in Boston. Bars are not allowed to serve cheap drinks at this time to customers. Mainly because the state does not want to lose out on the money drinks make after the business day ends. The state's economy would lose over a million dollars every day if bars in Boston served happy hour-priced beer. So the state has good reason for their laws. This weird drinking law is annoying, but it makes sense.

No Moose In the Bar

Yes. Really.

At some point in Alaska, it became necessary to declare that, no, you can't give a moose a beer. I suppose this must've come about after someone read the children's classic If You Give a Moose a Muffin, and that someone (probably three drinks over the limit) asked "What if I gave that moose a pint of Guinness?"

I have no idea why this law is necessary. Quite honestly, I'm concerned that someone had to make laws outlawing animal alcohol consumption. This sort of thing should not occur to anyone of sound mind. But, again, maybe things are different in Alaska. Maybe moose just break into bars, and refuse to leave even after the bartender thinks they've had enough. I only hope that no one gives a bear beer. I hear they're angry drunks.

Can't Drink and Horse In Colorado

Did you know that horses count as a vehicle?

Riding a horse while drunk is expressly forbidden in Colorado. As horses count as a vehicle when ridden, Colorado law interprets riding a horse while intoxicated as a DUI, and, if you're caught, you will be charged with the same charge you'd get if driving a car while drunk.

Of course, as horses are sentient creatures, this begs the question if anyone can blame the horse for causing any collisions while the rider is drunk. After all, a horse can choose its path, and, even though they are trained to follow their rider's will, they are not mindless machines. Sounds like an interesting legal case.

Ohio has an odd law involving animal alcohol consumption. It is illegal to give alcohol... to fish.

I can only assume that, at some point, someone tried to put fish in a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon. However, unlike a moose—which is a large, hearty animal that can probably hold its liquor—fish die if you overfeed them or forget to look at them. Why anyone thought that a fish could handle alcohol is anybody's guess.

Still... these weird drinking laws were constructed in meetings. People got together. People felt that THIS law had to be passed. Not anti-discrimination laws or infrastructure policies. Laws about fish and booze. THIS.

I also would like to point out that, in Ohio, it is illegal for more than five women to live together. Yes.

No Drinks On Election Day

This law is wide-spread. In both South Carolina and Kentucky (an already dry state), it is illegal to sell or consume alcohol on Election Day. Bars close down. Stores won't sell it. It is illegal to drink.

This means that the people who lose elections cannot drown their sorrows until the day following their defeat. Also, the winners can't raise a glass in their own honor.

This law tries to instill some sense of reverence and respect for the day where Americans exercise their democratic rights to decide the country's future. However, in doing so, it also strips Americans of their right to drink alcohol, and, thus, in an attempt to celebrate America's freedom, the state strips freedom away. Ironic, no?

Drive-Thru Cocktails

Let's end on a positive note. You can order cocktails (specifically daiquiris) in New Orleans through a drive-through.

Wait, did I say positive? I meant INCREDIBLY dangerous. Drinking while driving is what most people refer to as driving under the influence of alcohol. This is illegal everywhere—including Louisiana—for very good reasons. People are killed all the time in drunk driving accidents. Because drinking while driving is illegal in New Orlean's state, things become complicated when drive-through daiquiri stands serve drivers booze. As it stands, it is illegal to drink alcohol while driving a vehicle, but it isn't illegal to purchase alcohol—and have it open in the car—while in New Orleans and only New Orleans. To discourage people from drinking while driving, the drinks are not served with straws. Yes. That will stop people from drinking behind the wheel of a car—just as well as serving warm beer will, I wager.

Now Reading
Weird Drinking Laws in America
Read Next
New York's Speakeasy Bar Scene