Photo by AFMC Health & Wellness Team/Creative Commons

Legal Stuff

Every time you hear or read about a law, know that something must have happened for it to become a law. Drinking laws tend to range from the very serious end of the spectrum to the silly.

 

There are millions of unpleasant stories due to alcohol. The bottom line is that alcohol is a drug and all drugs impair thoughts and actions. It’s been said that alcohol is the most costly of all drug problems in America and imposes economic costs of more than $185 billion each year causing more than 100,000 deaths. As a bartender, you must be aware of the laws and consequences because it’s part of your job and should be taken extremely seriously. 

 

Alcohol Laws Timelime

In Medieval times it has been written that a person was more likely to die of a knife wound in a tavern than the victim of a heavier weapon on the battlefield. 

Laws to regulate alcohol consumption are not new. Between 1100 BC- 1400 AD forty-one laws were made against wine making.

 

 

978 BCE

King of England Aethelred II addresses the trouble in alehouses by issuing this law: “In the case of breach of the peace in an alehouse six half marks shall be paid in compensation if a man is slain, and twelve ores if no one is slain.” So, if you kill (or almost kill) someone in a bar, you only pay a fine?

 

1189

Supposedly, many alehouses were going up in smoke because King Henry II of England passed a law stating: “All alehouses are forbidden except those built of stone, that the city may be secure. And that no baker bake, or ale-wife brew by night, either with reeds or straw or stubble, but with wood only.”

 

1552

To reduce drunkenness and social disorder, King Edward VI required all alehouse keepers to have a license from the justices of the peace.

 

1839

Apparently, kids were running around drinking because London set the first known minimum drinking age at sixteen years old. 

 

1851

The mayor of Portland Maine, Neal Dow, drafted the first statewide prohibition law.

 

 

1896

The Raines Hotel Law was passed in America making it illegal to sell drink on a Sunday except in hotels during meals. 

 

1908

English law prohibited giving children under the age of 5 intoxicants except in an emergency or orders from a doctor. 

 

1905 Jean Lanfray from Switzerland drank two glasses of Absinthe at breakfast, a creme de menthe, a cognac, and six glasses of wine during lunch then before leaving work he drank another glass of wine and once home he drank a brandy & coffee and liter of wine. He then murdered his wife and the trial was known as the Absinthe Murder.

 

1916

26 of the 48 states had already outlawed alcohol in America. Prohibition (the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sales of alcohol is restricted or illegal also called the Noble Experiment) for all states in America lasts between 1920 and 1933 making matters worse because of the organized underground crime it creates. 

 

1937 the drinking age in America is set at 18 years old and The National Alcohol Beverage Control Association is formed. 

 

1949 the drinking age in America is set at 21 for liquor and 18 for cereal malt beverages. 

 

1980 

On May 30, a drinking California driver hit a 13-year-old little girl named Cari. The car threw her body 125 feet knocking her shoes off. The hit mutilated her body so bad that no organs were available for donation. Her mother was Candy Lightner, the founding president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In 1983 a television movie was made of the incident.

 

1984

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed which introduced a federal penalty of highway construction funds to any state that does not raise their drinking age for alcohol to 21.

 

1987

The United States Supreme court makes it mandatory for all states to raise the drinking age to 21.

 

1991

The Century Council is launched and is funded by America's leading distillers that promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and fights alcohol abuse, focusing on drunk driving and underage drinking problems. The funding companies are; Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine North America, Bacardi U.S.A., Inc., Brown-Forman, Constellation Brands, Cruzan, Ltd., DIAGEO, Future Brands, LLC, Hood River Distillers, Pernod Ricard USA, and Sidney Frank Importing Co., Inc.

 

1999

Jacqueline Saburido and two friends were hit head-on by a 20-year-old drunk driver in Texas. Her two friends died on impact but Jacqueline was pinned in the front seat and burned. She woke up in a Galveston hospital blind and hallucinating. Today, she has no ears, nose, hair, stubs for hands, and limited vision.

Faces of Drunk Driving

 

 

 

 

 

 BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content and is also called Breath Alcohol Content or Blood Alcohol Concentration.

 

As of 2005, all American states have adopted a BAC level of 0.08 to determine intoxication. Because we all have different bodies, genetics, weight, genders, and nutrition you can’t rely on the number of drinks as a measuring device so, your BAC is used. To give you an idea, usually, one glass (1.5 ounces of liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer) will increase an average person’s BAC to 0.04.

 

In technical terms, a BAC rating of 0.20 means 1 part per 500 in a person’s blood is alcohol. The most common way roadside BAC is measured is with a Breathalyzer, however, it really only gives you an estimate. There are too many scientific words to describe how a Breathalyzer works, but in a nutshell, it operates by using photocells to analyze the color change of oxidation-reduction reaction. Only blood samples can give you an accurate reading, and in some states, this is the only method acceptable in a court of law.

 

The legal BAC limit for aircraft pilots and commercial drivers in America is set at 0.04. And there’s also a much stricter standard for drivers under the age of 21 called Trace Constitutes Positive (TCP).

 BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content and is also called Breath Alcohol Content or Blood Alcohol Concentration.

 

As of 2005, all American states have adopted a BAC level of 0.08 to determine intoxication. Because we all have different bodies, genetics, weight, genders, and nutrition you can’t rely on the number of drinks as a measuring device so, your BAC is used. To give you an idea, usually, one glass (1.5 ounces of liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer) will increase an average person’s BAC to 0.04.

 

In technical terms, a BAC rating of 0.20 means 1 part per 500 in a person’s blood is alcohol. The most common way roadside BAC is measured is with a Breathalyzer, however, it really only gives you an estimate. There are too many scientific words to describe how a Breathalyzer works, but in a nutshell, it operates by using photocells to analyze the color change of oxidation-reduction reaction. Only blood samples can give you an accurate reading, and in some states, this is the only method acceptable in a court of law.

 

The legal BAC limit for aircraft pilots and commercial drivers in America is set at 0.04. And there’s also a much stricter standard for drivers under the age of 21 called Trace Constitutes Positive (TCP).

Global Drunk Driver Fines

Australia: the names of the drivers are sent to the newspapers and are printed under the heading, Drunk and in Jail. Fine up to $1000 and/or 6 months in jail with a 3-month minimum loss of license.


Austria: No accident gets a fine of 5,000 to 30,000 Austrian shillings or prison up to 6 months. In an accident, the consequences are more severe.


Bulgaria: A second conviction results in execution.


Canada: First offense fine is between $50 and $2,000 or jail for 6 months or both. Second offense is 14 days to 1 year in jail. When the motor vehicle has caused bodily injury jail is up to 10 years to death.


Czechoslovakia: Jail up to 1 year, loss of drivers license, fines up to 50,000 crowns, and confiscation of 10-25% of salary. The court may also direct that the driver be removed from his present position and employed in a less responsible job.


El Salvador: First offense is your last because you are shot

by firing squad.


Finland & Sweden: Jail for 1 year, hard labor, and fines. Also, if an individual yields a vehicle to someone guilty of drunk driving, they will be fined or imprisoned for up to 1 year.


Japan: Fines up to 30,000 to 50,000 yen or 3 months - 2 years in prison with hard labor.
Malaysia: Driver is jailed and if he is married, his wife is jailed too.


Norway: 3 weeks in jail at hard labor, 1 yr loss of license. If the second offense is within 5 years than license is revoked for life.


Poland: Jail, fines, and political lectures.

DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated and DUI is Driving Under the Influence.

Believe it or not, they say that more alcohol-related transportation accidents happened before automobiles were invented. However, automobiles can weigh a couple of tons, so it turns them into heavy-duty weapons when driven by a person that has been drinking, so the accidents are more fatal.

 

In 1998 The U.S. federal government called for the installation of alcohol ignition interlocks to be installed on the cars of repeat DWI offenders. The driver blows into the device and based on the results determines the use of the ignition.

American Drinking Age

All U.S. states prohibit providing alcohol to persons under 21, although states may have limited exceptions.

These exceptions include religious activities, consent by a parent, guardian, or spouse, and lawful employment. Family member consent often refers to private locations, such as in the home. Many states allow “social hosts” who are responsible for underage drinking events on property they own or lease.

 

Here are some sites that will give you the updated drinking laws by state.

Alcohol Policy

National Youth Rights Association

Wikipedia U.S. History of Alcohol Minimum Drinking Age

 

 

Unusual American Laws

Alaska

There are 83 dry towns and villages in Alaska. Fairbanks is a dry town for people and moose. It's illegal to feed a moose any alcoholic beverage.

 

Alabama

It’s illegal to feed public park animals alcohol. You cannot purchase alcohol online or have alcohol delivered. In addition, the state does not allow any alcohol bottles with an immoral label. (A wine called Cycles Gladiator started that one.)

 

Arkansas

Open liquor containers are allowed in a moving vehicle, but neither the driver nor any of the passengers are allowed to drink.

 

California

An award-winning adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood was banned from a reading list by a school board in Culver City, California, because the heroine had included a bottle of wine in the basket she brought to her grandmother.

 

A bartender in California can be convicted of selling to a minor if the purchaser uses a false or altered ID to buy the alcohol.

 

Colorado

It is illegal to ride a horse while intoxicated. Food cannot be sold in liquor stores.

 

Connecticut

You cannot buy alcohol after nine o’clock in the evening.

 

Delaware

In Newark, there is zoning that does not allow alcohol to be served if there is also dancing.

 

Florida

Dwarf tossing is illegal in all bars. The maximum size of beer sold cannot exceed thirty-two ounces.

 

Hawaii

You are only allowed to have one drink in front of you.

 

Idaho

It’s illegal to serve alcohol in a theater showing a film that has a sex scene in it.

 

Illinois

Students under the age of twenty-one who are enrolled in a culinary program are allowed to drink alcohol.

 

Indiana

Women were not allowed to tend bar until 1967. It’s illegal to carry your drink from the bar to your table. And liquor stores cannot sell cooled sodas.

 

 

Iowa

It is illegal to run a bar tab. Ministers cannot cross a state line with alcohol unless they have a permit.

 

 

Kansas

It’s illegal to drink on a plane when flying over any dry parts of Kansas.

 

 

Kentucky

Bourbon County (where Bourbon originated) is a dry county.

 

 

Louisiana

Drive-through Daiquiri shops that sell to-go drinks are legal. The to-go alcoholic beverage is considered closed as long as the straw has not been punctured through the lid. In addition, liquor stores do not sell mini-alcohol bottles (airplane bottles) so that hotel guests cannot clean out their minibar then replace all the bottles.

 

 

Maine

Drinking games and alcoholic prizes are not allowed in bars. You cannot buy alcohol on Sunday; however, if Saint Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday then you can. Alcohol is not allowed in Maine’s state parks. Kids can drink with their parents at home. In addition, you cannot have more than two drinks in front of you at a bar.

 

Maryland

Men cannot buy drinks for female bartenders.

 

Massachusetts

It is illegal to offer drink discounts, have a happy hour, or play drinking games in bars.

 

Michigan

You cannot be drunk on a train. Gas stations cannot sell alcohol unless they meet the distance laws from the pumps to the alcohol. And liquor stores do not sell mixers.

 

Minnesota

Minnesota’s alcohol laws all have to do with the limited time that alcohol can be purchased, so stock up when visiting.
 

Mississippi

Just to show how serious Mississippi takes alcohol, they imposed a statewide alcohol Prohibition in 1907 (thirteen years before the official American Prohibition was passed in 1920). Even though Prohibition only lasted from 1920 to 1933, Mississippi did not lift their ban until thirty-three years later in 1966. Currently, they have thirty-four dry counties (counties where zero alcohol can be sold). The weird thing is that Mississippi does not have an open container law, and drivers are allowed to drink as long as you stay under the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08.

 

 

Missouri

In St. Louis, you are not allowed to give elephants alcohol. In Columbia, you cannot drink alcohol between two o’clock and six o’clock in the morning.

 

Montana

Luck plays a lot in obtaining a liquor license in Montana. Names are put into a spinning basket, then drawn. Only those drawn are allowed to pay $500,000 for a liquor license.

 

Nebraska

It’s illegal to sell beer in a bar unless you are making a pot of soup at the time, and you are not allowed to flirt with anyone working in a bar.

 

Nevada

Not weird, but in Nevada you can purchase alcohol seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day.

 

New Hampshire

It’s illegal to get drunk in a cemetery.

 

New Jersey

If you have had a DUI, then you are never allowed to apply for a personalized license plate.

 

New York

New York City restaurants and bars cannot sell alcohol until noon. However, there is talk of changing this by 2020.

 

North Carolina

Bingo halls may not serve alcohol.

 

North Dakota

You cannot sell beer and pretzels at the same time.

 

Ohio

It is illegal to get fish drunk. The French wine called Fat Bastard is banned.

 

Oklahoma

Liquor stores selling beer containing four per cent alcohol or more by volume can only be sold at room temperature.

 

Oregon

Everyone in your entire party must be twenty-one or older when buying alcohol in a store.

 

Pennsylvania

Plan ahead when visiting this state because they have so many alcohol laws that it will make your head spin. Beer can only be bought at beer stores, wine can only be bought at wine stores, and liquor can only be bought at liquor stores. Plus, times and days to buy are issues as well.

 

South Carolina

Beer and wine is sold twenty-four hours a day; liquor is not.

 

Tennessee

Up until 2014, alcohol and mixers were never sold together in one store. You had to go to two different stores to purchase them.

 

Texas

Encyclopedia Britannica is banned because it contains a recipe for making beer at home. They have also banned the French wine called Fat Bastard.

 

Utah

Cocktails are not allowed to have more than two and a half ounces of liquor. You are not allowed to order a double; however, you are allowed to have two drinks in front of you. In addition, in restaurants, drink making must be hidden behind a wall or barrier so children do not see it. It is called the “Zion Curtain.”

 

Vermont

Vermont has laws in place so university students can drink alcohol.

 

Virginia

In Virginia Beach, if you are a passenger in your own car and intoxicated, and your friend driving the car is intoxicated, you both will be charged with a DUI if pulled over.

 

 

Washington

Eighteen-to-twenty-year-olds may consume alcohol if they are enrolled in a culinary course.

 

 

West Virginia

Bars are allowed to advertise alcohol beverage prices, but not brand names.

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