April 17, 2024

Beware Drunk Moose–and Other Blue Law Irregularities















One of the lasting legacies of prohibition is a mishmash of laws by the Federal Government and the states in regulating alcohol. It gets even more complicated when localities get involved and add another layer of regulation.

Our elected officials, in their infinite lack of wisdom, do manage to come up with some ridiculous offerings when regulating one of their favorite targets for social control. This month, just for amusement, I wanted to look at some of the various alcohol blue law favorites from around the country.

No Drunken Fish

The first offer comes from the state of Ohio. The “With God, All Things Are Possible State” for some reason decided that it should be against the law to get a fish drunk. Don’t ask me why or how this came into existence, but at some point the Ohio legislature must have thought giving booze to fish was a serious enough problem to address. Perhaps the answer is where we get the expression “drinks like a fish.”

…Nor Moose

Continuing on the drunken animal theme, we travel to Alaska. The city of Fairbanks, in all grim seriousness I’m sure, decided that it should be against the law to serve moose alcoholic beverages. I’ve never owned a bar, but seeing as how the average moose can’t pay for his or her tab, I don’t anticipate too many owners of a liquor license lining up to pour shots for them anytime soon.

Required Kettle of Soup

Speaking of liquor licenses, if you own one for a bar in the state of Nebraska, you’d be wise to hire a decent chef and give them a good stock pot, because the “Equality Before the Law State” demands that if you sell beer, you must also simultaneously brew a kettle of soup. Now, I get the food and drink combination as it’s a natural pairing, but why specifically soup? Do they count bisques, consommés, and stews, or does it specifically have to be soup?

No Beer in Bed

If you cross the border into Iowa, I’d recommend that men utilize the old 1950s television arrangement of sleeping in separate beds if you’re married, because it’s illegal to drink beer while in bed with your wife. She can have all she wants, and you’re still fine if you’re a wine or hard liquor drinker though. I guess it’s only beer that leads to amorous behavior. I mean, how often do you hear of wine goggles?

Cash Register Radius

Even the highly liberal sunshine state of California, the nexus of the American wine industry, gets in on the curious rule making. If you own a store in the state of California and happen to sell both alcohol and motor fuel, you’re not allowed to display the alcohol within 5 feet of your cash registers. We don’t want to promote drinking and driving after all, so better make sure it’s at least 6 feet away since that’s less tempting.

No Beer from a Bucket While Sitting on Curb

The city of St. Louis, Missouri, corporate home of Anheuser-Busch (at least it was before the Belgians bought the company), decided that no one should be allowed to sit on a street curb and drink beer from a bucket. Only buckets are outlawed though, so carafes, tureens, ceramic jars, or even troughs are all acceptable containers. However, be careful not to leave your trough behind, because anyone under the age of 21 handling your empty container is considered being in illegal possession of alcohol under state laws.

$10,000 Gift Bag

While shopping for wine gifts in New York, make sure to plan for two stops as you can buy the wine, the wine glasses, stoppers, pourers, corkscrews, etc., etc. at any eligible shop with a liquor license, but you can’t buy the gift bag. It’s a $10,000 fine.

Winter Entertainment

If you’re a fall down drunk, I highly recommend moving to Minnesota. Most states and localities ban public intoxication, but the “L’Etoile du Nord State” has specifically not made public intoxication a crime under the 1999 statute 340A.902. I guess drunk watching is a form of entertainment in the bitter cold winter.

No Refreshing Booze

The one odd federal law to toss into the mix comes from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. It’s carried over to the current TTB as well. Producers are not allowed to use the word “refreshing” to describe their product.  So, even though the TTB doesn’t allow it, enjoy a “refreshing” cold alcoholic beverage this summer.

Just remember to drink responsibly and don’t give it to a moose or fish, drink it from a bucket on the curb, or with your wife in bed.



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