Strange Alcohol Laws Around The World

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Alcohol Laws In Australia

One thing that I – and many fellow Australians – cannot stand about our over-governed country (and particularly my state Queensland –often called ‘the nanny state’) is our absurd laws – particularly those that ‘control’ our bars and clubs.

Cited as measures to curb ‘alcohol fueled violence’ (the mantra repeated, ad nausea, by Aussie politicians and media in support of it) most in the industry and on the streets would claim that the laws have simply done the opposite.

There are:

  • ‘Lockouts’: where venues aren’t allowed to let any more patrons in after a certain time – as early as 1 am in some places – probably contributing to excessive drinking and madness, as well as people being on the streets with nowhere to go at 1am on a ‘night out’.

  • No cocktails or shots after midnight: this includes a neat whisky. Irrespective of how appreciative you are of your single malts.

  • No glassware – at all times: Ensuring that in some venues, you’ll have to try and enjoy your drink out of a plastic cup, like a child.

  • No more than 2 drinks per person: So buying a round and doing your friends a favour, means they’ll still have to get up and present themselves at the bar for a drinks rollcall

That’s not to mention that fact that anyone serving – or potentially serving – alcohol, has to have a license and sit a test (not just the venue, but the individual as well – a great money-spinner for all the ‘schools’ doing the courses), or the massive fines issued to anyone breaking the rules, or serving drunk guests.  – You can even get a fine for just allowing them in to your bar!

It really does take a lot of the fun out of, well, ‘having fun’.

Australia isn’t the only country where alcohol related laws might make you laugh.

Here in the USA:

  • Public intoxication laws in the state of Texas allow police officers to arrest anyone on just a hunch – without a breathalyzer or field test – virtually anywhere – including in a bar.

  • Apparently it’s illegal to sell beer and pretzels at the same time in North Dakota.

  • And in Nebraska, a bar cannot sell beer unless it is brewing a kettle of soup at the time – what? 

  • (see for more of these gems)

breathalyzerImage Source: Supermoook

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Perhaps the best known, most talked about alcohol related laws in the USA are the so-called ‘Blue Laws’, which ban the sale of alcohol on Sundays, mostly for religious reasons.

It is said that the laws have been repealed across much of the US, despite the fact that they’ve often been declared constitutional, and for secular reasons (even though the were originally declared for religious reasons). Weird.

What else?

  • In Sweden: you cant buy booze from a grocery store after 7pm.  And they can’t sell alcohol above 3.5%abv (2.2% in some regions).

  • In Thailand: chains such as 7/11 and other supermarkets sell booze from 9am – noon, but not from noon until 5pm (apparently to stop schoolkids from buying alcohol and getting wasted)

  • The death penalty is enforceable for your first drink-driving offense in El Salvador, your second offence in Bulgaria (a bit harsh?)

  • In Russia: For drink-driving, you lose your license for life, even if you’ve never offended before (better than losing your actual life instead I suppose?)

  • In Malaysia: If a man is caught drunk driving, the driver and his wife can be jailed.  This apparently can apply to any ‘family members’ of the offender.

  • In Nigeria: While it is legal to drink beer, it is illegal to import or brew it in the country (perhaps owing to the abundance of sorghum, the potential for a huge brewing supply, and attempts by huge companies at controlling it – but that’s another story.)

  • And finally – perhaps most ridiculously – in Scotland: Probably owing to an 1872 licensing act forbidding anyone drunk to be in control of a steam engine, horse or cow (all potential modes of transport at the time), it is still illegal for a drunk man to be in charge of a cow’ (or a horse, for that matter) – that really cuts out a lot of fun.

Yes we all might encounter outrageous laws when it comes to drinking (or being drunk), but things could potentially be worse no?

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