Policy Studies Alcohol Policy

America’s dumbest drinks laws

Key Points

While prohibition has indeed been relegated to the dustbin of history, we’re still far from free when it comes to drinking. Yes, even today, alcohol continues to be subjected to a host of nonsensical, onerous and sometimes downright silly restrictions.
After the repeal of Prohibition, anti-alcohol sentiments did not die away overnight. In fact, a strange mix of temperance advocates, progressives and religious leaders continued to decry the supposedly deleterious effects of alcohol and sought to control public access to it. And although the 21st amendment repealed Prohibition, it still allowed state and local governments broad control over hooch.
States and localities seized this opportunity and rushed in to fill the regulatory void left when the federal government exited the booze business. As a result, we still have many, head-scratching alcohol rules on the books. In fact, even more modern alcohol laws that do not trace their lineage to the post-Prohibition era were often inspired by similar forces.
Given our modern society, it would make sense for human beings to be treated as adults when it comes to booze. This would mean deregulating the alcohol industry to create a rational system that encourages innovation and growth, while also ensuring public health and safety.

“In one way or another, all of these [laws] have nonsensical rationales—and, in some cases, downright offensive ones. While it’s to be expected that governments might want to institute at least some laws governing the sale and consumption of alcohol, the true goal should be to protect public health and safety. Too often, however, laws like the ones featured here use safety as a pretext, when, in fact, the real rationale is protectionism (or worse).”

Press release: The definitive guide to the worst booze laws in America

Image credit: Everett Historical

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