Liquor Laws – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Chapter Fifteen, Part One.

ABC AgentThe liquor trade is a seriously regulated business. Liquor laws in New Jersey are enforced by Alcohol Beverage Control agents who carry automatic weapons. That may sound a little extreme, but these agents never know when they may encounter a rude convenience store clerk, or worse, an arrogant wine salesperson.

New Jersey laws are so strict that under NJ statute R.S. 39:4-50, people convicted of “Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or while ability is impaired by alcohol or refusing to take a Breathalyzer test” are forbidden from purchasing vanity license plates for ten years!¹

Depending on where you live you may have to deal with substantial hurdles when seeking a little libation. In West Virginia for example, it is illegal to give a minor liquor unless you are related by blood or marriage, or the more likely scenario – both.

As recently as 1972 a Kentucky statute outlawed serving alcohol to women unless they were seated at a table. The joint where I hang draws the line at serving drinks once you’re under the table.

The Montana legislature finally got around to outlawing drinking while driving in 2005, but to give the public time to adjust to this radical idea they instituted a six-month moratorium on enforcing the law. Gone are the days when taverns offered patrons a “roadie cocktail” as they headed out the door.

I’m not sure how they feel about drinking and driving in Colorado but you can get busted for riding your horse while under the influence. This state also forbids selling alcohol to a “known habitual drunkard” which is why I never spend more than three days in Colorado.

In Indiana it is prohibited to sell alcohol to an inmate at a penal facility, which is how my Uncle Ralph once remained sober for five years. On a side note, liquor stores in Indiana are not allowed to sell milk. This was never much of an issue for Uncle Ralph.

Some states are more lenient than others when it comes to regulating alcohol consumption. In Louisiana you can buy a jumbo frozen daiquiri, margarita, or piña colada at a drive-through daiquiri bar and in Missouri parents may legally provide alcohol to their children. In New Mexico on the other hand, mom could spend 18 months in prison for committing this class four felony.

Citizens of New Mexico are also prohibited from voting if they are “idiots, insane persons and persons convicted of a felonious or infamous crime”. After discovering some of the bizarre liquor laws on the books around the country I think it’s safe to say that there’s no such restrictions on the elected officials who write them.


¹ New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, SP-2 (R7/10)