Dry Laws

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What are Dry Laws?

Dry laws are laws that prohibit the sale and purchase of alcoholic beverage within a given time frame or area.  For example, some states enforce “blue laws”, which restrict the sale of liquor on Sundays.  Dry laws may vary from state to state.  Even within a single state, dry laws may vary by county or jurisdiction.  Some counties may prohibit alcohol sales at night time, while some may restrict sales only on Sundays until noontime.

Dry counties are counties that prohibit the sale of alcohol altogether.  A dry county may enforce its liquor prohibitions for on or off-premises sales.  Or some counties may prohibit some types of dram shops (liquor-selling establishments) within certain geographic boundaries.

What are the Legal Penalties for Violating Dry Law Requirements?

Violations of dry law rules and regulations can result in legal penalties.  For persons who are caught buying alcohol in violation of a dry law, it can lead to:

Dram shop owners and business owners who violate dry laws can also face legal penalties.  These may also include fines and jail time.  Also, the person’s business license or liquor license may be temporarily or permanently revoked. 

Finally, violations of dry law rules can complicate all other alcohol-related charges, such as driving under the influence, possession of alcohol by a minor, or public drunkenness.  If a person has violated both an alcohol law and a dry law, they may face increased legal punishments due to the multiple violations.  As with any law, ignorance of dry laws is no excuse and will not serve as a defense in court.   

Which States Enforce Dry Laws?

Though they may vary according to county, the following states enforce some sort of restriction on alcohol sales:

On the other hand, the states of Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada have comparatively more relaxed alcohol laws. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Violation of Dry Laws?

If you have violated a dry law in your area, you may wish to speak with a lawyer for advice.  An experienced criminal attorney can determine whether you have actually committed a violation according to your county’s alcohol restrictions.  Your lawyer may be able to file for a reduced sentence on your behalf. 

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Last Modified: 05-06-2011 01:10 PM PDT

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