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Laurel Lukin
Laurel Lukin

Where To Buy Alcohol On Christmas Day

In some states, bars are open on Christmas Day, but not liquor stores. Sales of beer and wine are fine in many places, but not hard alcohol. As Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute explained to Reason, other states run the liquor retailers and can thus ban sales without formally banning them. "They don't have a law against buying alcohol on holidays, but they do shut down on the holidays," Minton says. "It functionally is a ban on retail liquor sales."

where to buy alcohol on christmas day

For the most part, Minton says regulations on Christmas Day alcohol sales are "part of the blue-law category," meaning they have religious justifications. And the modern laws originate from the end of Prohibition in 1933. "When the states decided to legalize [alcohol] again, a lot of them instituted blue laws," Minton says, "and it's taken this long for most of the states to slowly get rid of them." Blue laws originally banned alcohol sales on Sundays, then "extended to mostly Christian holidays but also some federal holidays."

"It shall be unlawful to sell intoxicating liquors on Christmas Day," state law reads. Not obeying is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by 90 days behind bars and/or a $1,000 fine. The blanket ban applies to bars and liquor stores, as well as grocery stores, where customers can usually buy beer and wine.

Colorado will let you buy alcohol at bars or restaurants, but you can't purcahse any kind of booze from establishments with "off-premise liquor licenses," meaning liquor stores, grocery stores, and drug stores.

The only place you'll be able to get alcohol on Christmas Day, as well as New Year's Day and Thanksgiving, is at a bar or restaurant licensed to sell booze. Retail sales of alcohol are completely banned. This extends to grocery stores, which can sell beer (though not wine) throughout most of the year.

Georgia leaves it up to each individual municipality to determine whether or not to ban alcohol sales on Christmas. In places like the city of Athens and Halle County, alcohol sales are completely banned.

Retail sales of most alcoholic beverages are banned in Kansas on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Even when it's not one of those holidays, the only retailers allowed to sell most kinds of package alcohol are designated liquor stores.

Massachusetts bans all retail liquor sales on Christmas and Thanksgiving. That's not the state's only outdated restriction on alcohol sales. The state also bans bars from offering happy hour deals or other alcohol-based promotions.

For the most part, the only place where you can buy alcohol over 3.2 percent ABW are state-run stores, which are closed on Christmas. As the CEI report notes, you might be able to get around this by visiting one of Utah's breweries, wineries, or distilleries, which have been granted state licenses to sell their products whenever they want.

Why do all these laws still exist? According to Minton, the "bootlegger-Baptist" phenomenon, named by economist Bruce Yandle, remains in effect. Essentially, Baptists don't want people drinking, and bootleggers don't want to compete with legal purveyors of alcohol. "They don't like each other and they don't really want the same outcome, but they for various reasons support the same policy goals," Minton says.

The biggest reason you might have a hard time buying alcohol on Christmas is that no one wants to put the effort into enacting change. "It takes a very long time and a lot of effort, and a lot of money, usually, to get some kind of measure," Minton says. "Not a whole lot of people are really willing to stick their neck out for something that seems as small as a holiday alcohol ban."

Correction: This post previously stated that retail sales of all alcoholic beverages in Oklahoma are completely banned on Christmas, New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day. But thanks to a new law that went into effect October 1, grocery stores can now sell beer and wine year-round.

Then-governor Mike Pence signed House Bill 1542 in 2015 that removed the longtime state provision that made it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages from 3 a.m. Dec. 25 to 7 a.m. Dec. 26. The bill went into effect on July 1, making Christmas 2015 the first to allow sales since Prohibition.

Many Prohibition-era alcohol bans date back to blue laws in which activities were restricted for religious reasons. Historically, the most ardent opponents of alcohol in Indiana were the Methodist and Baptist churches.

There's a law in Colorado prohibiting licensed businesses from selling alcohol to customers on Christmas Day (December 25). This includes grocery stores, gas stations, liquor stores, and other sellers.

"Retailers licensed for on-premises consumption may conduct alcohol sales (including takeout and delivery sales), as their license type(s) have this ability on Christmas Day under the current statutory framework," according to Suzanne Karrer, a communications supervisor for the Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor & Tobacco Enforcement Division.

The holidays bring parties, feasts, and libations. But some celebrants may find themselves without a cup of cheer if they wait until the day of a holiday to buy their booze. Though alcohol Prohibition ended 85 years ago this December, many states maintain Prohibition-era laws, which ban the sales of liquor on Sundays and certain holidays.

Grocery stores in Colorado can now sell full-strength wine and beer (thanks to a 2016 bill). But, takeaway alcohol sales are still banned on Christmas day. Weed is, apparently, still totally dank (and legal for sale) on the holiday.

As a control state, liquor (anything with higher than a 15% alcohol content) may only be purchased at state-run stores, but beer and wine are sold in grocery and specialty stores. Though the state repealed its ban on Election Day sales back in 2009, the state still prohibits retail liquor sales on Christmas.

Until this September, retail alcohol greater than 3.2% had to be sold at room temperature, but you can now buy full-strength, cold beer in Oklahoma. Hooray. But, the state still bans all retail alcohol sales on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Counties have the option of enacting additional bans on holidays and Sundays.

West Virginia, like Virginia, is a control state, although the state itself no longer runs the retail stores. But, according to the alcohol beverage authority, sales of spirits (retail only) are prohibited on Sundays and Christmas Day.

Historically, liquor stores and liquor license drug stores had to be closed on Christmas Day or no sales of alcohol on Christmas Day that carried over with Senate Bill 243," said Patrick Maroney, Director of the Liquor Enforcement Division.

In a note to the businesses holding the state's 17,000 liquor licenses, Michigan's Liquor Control Commission makes it clear: "The sale of alcoholic beverages must end on Christmas Eve, December 24, by midnight and may not begin again until noon on Christmas, December 25. Normal legal hours for alcohol sales resume on December 26."

Although most blue laws in the U.S. have been repealed, our Lone Star State still holds a couple, including certain alcohol sale restrictions as well as car dealerships who have to choose to work either Saturday or Sunday, but not both. Luckily, since 1985 we can buy pots, pans, knives, nails and washing machines on Sunday. Phew!

(b) No delivery of alcohol to an off-sale or on-sale licensee may be made by a wholesaler or accepted by an off-sale or on-sale licensee on a Sunday. No order solicitation or merchandising may be made by a wholesaler on a Sunday.

A municipality may further limit the days or hours of on and off sales of alcoholic beverages, provided that further restricted on-sale hours for intoxicating liquor must apply equally to on-sale hours of 3.2 percent malt liquor. A city may not permit the sale of alcoholic beverages during hours when the sale is prohibited by this section.

(a) No licensee may sell intoxicating liquor or 3.2 percent malt liquor on-sale between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. unless the licensee has obtained a permit from the commissioner. Application for the permit must be on a form the commissioner prescribes. Permits are effective for one year from date of issuance. For retailers of intoxicating liquor, the fee for the permit is based on the licensee's gross receipts from on-sales of alcoholic beverages in the 12 months prior to the month in which the permit is issued, and is at the following rates:

Liquor stores in Texas are required by law to remain closed on Sunday, and they're also prohibited on Christmas Day. And that added wrinkle in the Texan Liquor Control Act, which restricts the sale of alcohol, means liquor stores will also be closed on Monday, too.

In Georgia, distilled spirits can only be purchased at licensed package stores, whereas beer and wine can be purchased at convenience and grocery stores. Although the individual counties are allowed to set the days and time frames for alcohol sales, they may not permit sales before 8 a.m. or after 11:45 p.m. from Monday through Saturday.

Up until 2011, alcohol could not be purchased in Georgia on Sunday. However, in recent years, there have been major changes to this long-held practice. Currently, customers can visit a licensed package store or other retail location and buy alcohol on Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. When it comes to on-premise sales, the laws vary by county and even city. Some cities have enacted a brunch bill that allows bars and restaurants to sell alcohol starting at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

On Christmas Eve, the sale and supply of alcohol must finish at 12 midnight regardless of whether you have approved extended trading hours. Patrons must finish consuming their drinks by 12.30am on Christmas Day.

Also, licensees with accommodation may serve alcohol to patrons eating a meal in the dining area of the premises between 10am and 12 midnight. This means that alcohol may be served to patrons for 1 hour before dining, during the course of a meal and for 1 hour after the meal is finished. 041b061a72


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