It's Not Just The Middle East With Quirky Booze Laws

Indiana still has some of the strictest laws governing alcohol sales in the United States, including a prohibition against all carryout alcohol sales on Sundays. Here, Bill Cheek, an employee at Kahn's Fine Wines and Spirits in Indianapolis, puts labels on cases of beer. i i

Indiana still has some of the strictest laws governing alcohol sales in the United States, including a prohibition against all carryout alcohol sales on Sundays. Here, Bill Cheek, an employee at Kahn's Fine Wines and Spirits in Indianapolis, puts labels on cases of beer. Darron Cummings/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Darron Cummings/AP
Indiana still has some of the strictest laws governing alcohol sales in the United States, including a prohibition against all carryout alcohol sales on Sundays. Here, Bill Cheek, an employee at Kahn's Fine Wines and Spirits in Indianapolis, puts labels on cases of beer.

Indiana still has some of the strictest laws governing alcohol sales in the United States, including a prohibition against all carryout alcohol sales on Sundays. Here, Bill Cheek, an employee at Kahn's Fine Wines and Spirits in Indianapolis, puts labels on cases of beer.

Darron Cummings/AP

As astute commentators pointed out in an earlier Parallels post about the vagaries of getting a drink in the Middle East, that isn't the only place where the laws regulating alcohol are more than a touch confusing, or where there's debate over them.

Some Americans don't need to look any further than their own local bar.

Commenter Glenn Zanotti shared his perspective:

"If the Southern Baptist Convention had its way, buying alcohol here in the Dallas area would be just as difficult. As it is, I have to drive 20 miles for a bottle of Bourbon. I used to have to drive to the next town to buy a six-pack of beer. Thank goodness for the separation of church and state — voters decided to allow beer and wine sales in my suburban city about 10 years back. Now I can buy beer and wine close to home, but not that evil liquor. Maybe we'll change that in another 10 years."

Remember mini-bottles? They weren't always just for airplane drinks. When I was growing up in South Carolina, state law required restaurants and bars to use mini-bottles to mix all those bourbon and cokes, and Seven and Sevens. Ironically, stiff drinks were one unintended effect of the law.

The mini-bottle rule — the last of its kind in the U.S. — ended only in 2005. To this day, many jurisdictions across the U.S. are dry altogether or restrict Sunday sales of alcohol, vestiges of once-common blue laws regulating a variety of activities on Sundays.

In Indiana, for instance, there's a battle brewing right now over the issue. In a recent report, our colleague Sara Wittmeyer at WFIU sums up the current laws:

"While many states have laws restricting liquor sales, Indiana is the only one where you can't buy packaged beer, wine and liquor on Sundays, and it's the only state that regulates alcohol sales based on temperature. Only liquor stores can sell cold beer."

Maybe those Middle East regulations aren't so complicated after all.

Read or listen to Sara's story to learn more about the controversy in Indiana.

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