Dry laws are laws that prohibit the sale and purchase of alcoholic beverage within a given time frame or area. Dry laws vary from state to state, and even within a single state, dry laws may vary from county to county. Many restrictions are based on time frame. For example, some counties may prohibit alcohol sales at night, while some may restrict sales only on Sundays with what are commonly referred to as “blue laws.”

What Are Dry Counties?

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. By contrast, some counties may prohibit a certain kinds of liquor-selling establishments – otherwise known as dram shops – 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:

  • Monetary fines
  • Jail time
  • Mandatory rehabilitation

Dram shop and business owners who violate dry laws can also face legal penalties. These may also include fines and jail time. Additionally, 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:

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:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

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

If you have violated a dry law in your area, speaking with an experienced business attorney can determine whether you have actually committed a violation under the alcohol restrictions of your county. Additionally, your lawyer may be able to file for a reduced sentence on your behalf.