Bye Bye Blue Laws?

I remember the first time I tried to buy beer on a Sunday in Connecticut. It was quite a shock for me, reading a sign proclaiming the illegality of such a ghastly practice. How dare I try to buy booze on the Sabbath! I had to drive into Westchester County to get it.

And imagine my surprise when I found out about New Hampshire. For a state with the motto "Live Free or Die," you'd think it would be a no-brainer to let people be free to drink past 1am.

Surprisingly, there are still a lot of restrictions on Sunday liquor sales in several US states, including Texas and Minnesota. Those are known as "blue laws," the general term referring to a restriction on any sort of good or activity being sold on Sunday (or for part of that day, at least). Car dealerships and hunting are also frequently under restriction as well.

Thankfully, some common sense is starting to prevail--Connecticut's legislature removed its Sunday restrictions on alcohol recently, and there are many movements to push last call later into the night in other states. But it's not because the states have suddenly decided to wise up; it's because they "need the money." A business lobbying group in New Hampshire estimated state could gain $6 million annually in additional revenue just by making last call 2am rather than 1am (according to an article on the Wall Street Journal). Not only is that bump from people staying out longer; it's also removing the incentive for to hop across the border to party in other states.

It also takes into account the "sin taxes," referring to higher sales tax rates on alcohol and tobacco. Frankly, this is nonsense. I get that they're trying to cut down on addiction and abuse, but I like to have a nice drink or a premium cigar once in a while, and I don't want them costing twice what they normally should because a bunch of prissy, sanctimonious busybodies are trying to create utopia.

Those who can't or won't stop drinking and smoking...won't. Those who appreciate those things in their proper time and place will still have to pay as if they can't.

Am I the only one who thinks we'd be better off ditching the sin taxes and the blue laws? Would it be worth the increase in drunk driving and alcoholism that blue-law proponents claim?

At least let Maine extend last call to 4am. Those craft breweries up there are so amazing it just might be worth it...

Comments (24)

May 1, 2013

Is there something stopping you from buying alcohol Monday through Saturday? Or do you go through that much booze that you have to buy every day of the week? By your own admission, those who can't or won't stop drinking ... won't. So what does it matter if they can't buy beer one day a week? It's not like they'll not show up 8am the next morning and throw down for a 24 pack or whatever.

    • 4
May 1, 2013
crackjack:

So what does it matter if they can't buy beer one day a week?

It doesn't. It matters that he won't be able to. And I agree completely with his sentiment - people who can't control themselves aren't going to be helped by some Sunday policy, and it's stupid that everyone else has to abide by rules made for them.

Then again, these are really laws made to placate people of certain religious beliefs...

May 1, 2013
crackjack:

Is there something stopping you from buying alcohol Monday through Saturday? Or do you go through that much booze that you have to buy every day of the week?

FUCK this argument. I've heard it too many times from the bible-thumpers. I might not have a single drink all week and then my friends and I would like the fucking freedom to pick up some beer to sip on during Sunday night football. It's nobody's business whether I've had a drink in the past week anyway.

May 2, 2013
crackjack:

Is there something stopping you from buying alcohol Monday through Saturday? Or do you go through that much booze that you have to buy every day of the week? By your own admission, those who can't or won't stop drinking ... won't. So what does it matter if they can't buy beer one day a week? It's not like they'll not show up 8am the next morning and throw down for a 24 pack or whatever.

Remember that teacher in middle school who everyone hated? The one who made sure no one was allowed to play on the monkey bars because one kid fell off and hurt himself? Punishing the whole for the sake of a few? Removing the arena where plenty of people have found value, appreciation, and good experience because a few just can't control themselves?

The blue law states are that teacher.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

May 2, 2013

The blue laws are disgusting and it is a disgrace that a free country can have these nonsense, obviously religious rules.

Because when you're in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn't matter--interesting is what matters.

May 2, 2013
ricky212:

The blue laws are disgusting and it is a disgrace that a free country can have these nonsense, obviously religious rules.

They started out with religious purposes per the original Puritan settlers; now they're kept around for the nanny-state, social-engineering purposes (a la Mayor Bloomberg). Plenty of opposition to smoking and drinking besides from Southern evangelicals.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

May 2, 2013
In The Flesh:
ricky212:

The blue laws are disgusting and it is a disgrace that a free country can have these nonsense, obviously religious rules.

They started out with religious purposes per the original Puritan settlers; now they're kept around for the nanny-state, social-engineering purposes (a la Mayor Bloomberg). Plenty of opposition to smoking and drinking besides from Southern evangelicals.

I don't believe that for a second that the blue laws are for social engineering. But even if they are, still horrible.

P.S. Screw Bloomberg.

Because when you're in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn't matter--interesting is what matters.

May 2, 2013

Look on the bright side - even on a Sunday, nobody's stopping you from buying barley, hops and yeast.

May 2, 2013

Tangentially related but somewhat interesting: when I owned my yacht brokerage in Louisiana we fell under the purview of the La. Used Motor Vehicle Commission which enforced blue laws that required licensees to close on Sundays. You can probably imagine that Sundays are a big day on the water for boaters, so these laws were largely ignored by those of us in the business. Every once in a while, though, the LUMVC would get a wild hair up their ass and fine somebody for working on a Sunday. Crazy.

Also, there are a ton of blue laws throughout the South. I remember I was in South Carolina one weekend and was shocked to learn you couldn't buy booze on Sunday. I was even more shocked to learn that an exemption was granted for the new Panthers stadium. Money talks. L.A. (that's Lower Alabama for the uninitiated) has some weird blue laws too. I think you can buy beer but not booze or something, I don't remember. Gotta love the bible thumpers.

May 2, 2013
Edmundo Braverman:

Tangentially related but somewhat interesting: when I owned my yacht brokerage in Louisiana we fell under the purview of the La. Used Motor Vehicle Commission which enforced blue laws that required licensees to close on Sundays. You can probably imagine that Sundays are a big day on the water for boaters, so these laws were largely ignored by those of us in the business. Every once in a while, though, the LUMVC would get a wild hair up their ass and fine somebody for working on a Sunday. Crazy.

Also, there are a ton of blue laws throughout the South. I remember I was in South Carolina one weekend and was shocked to learn you couldn't buy booze on Sunday. I was even more shocked to learn that an exemption was granted for the new Panthers stadium. Money talks. L.A. (that's Lower Alabama for the uninitiated) has some weird blue laws too. I think you can buy beer but not booze or something, I don't remember. Gotta love the bible thumpers.

Wait, so they wouldn't even enforce it most of the time? Definitely wouldn't surprise me if they used it as a political favor tool...

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

May 2, 2013

Car dealers were close every Sunday without exception. Boats were another thing entirely. Obviously boat dealerships were closed, but there was a lot of business going on on the water.

May 2, 2013

I was at TopGolf in Allen, Tx and they said I couldnt order beer before noon on Sunday without getting chips. It's either a really funky blue law or their way of scamming more money out of me.

May 2, 2013

So fed up with nyc taxes on cigarettes that i just started ordering cartons from korea. 3 dollars a pack.

May 2, 2013

I live in Pennsylvania.

These laws are ridiculous here

May 2, 2013
CRE:

I live in Pennsylvania.

These laws are ridiculous here

Agreed. It seems like after NY and CA, PA has the most ridiculous regulation across the board, and I have no idea why that is.

May 2, 2013
808:
CRE:

I live in Pennsylvania.

These laws are ridiculous here

Agreed. It seems like after NY and CA, PA has the most ridiculous regulation across the board, and I have no idea why that is.

Quakers, bro

We can only buy wine and liquor in state run stores, can only buy cases of beer from certified beer distributors, and can only buy limited quantities of six packs from six pack sellers. There were many days in college were we'd buy three six packs, have to walk them out to the car, walk back in, buy three more, etc.

Also, going on vacation and seeing beer and wine in grocery stores and gas stations still blows my mind.

May 2, 2013

Weighing in on the other half of ITF's comments - I'm totally for the sin taxes, but only as a means of recouping the costs your activities create for society, not to encourage a certain type of behavior. From a very macro viewpoint, I think the government should levy the minimum income and/or sales taxes required to maintain basic services - military, police, infrastructure, social safety net, etc. Further taxes should then be based on the value you are extracting from society. For example, if you drive a car, you're contributing to the cost of fixing the wear and tear on the roads, so your gas taxes should reflect those costs. If you're smoking, you're having an impact on everyone else's insurance premiums. Plenty of macroeconomic studies are already done to assess the impact of smoking on society - just find the annual monetary value of that impact, divide by annual cigarette unit sales, and assign a tax on a per unit basis to make the two net to zero. More than that would be Nanny Bloomberg nonsense. That man has totally lost touch with reality.

May 2, 2013

This is yet another example of government being used to limit freedoms of Americans. Can anyone tell me how this is a necessary and vital use of government resources?

Only good government is a small government.

May 2, 2013
TNA:

This is yet another example of government being used to limit freedoms of Americans. Can anyone tell me how this is a necessary and vital use of government resources?

Only good government is a small government.

I think most of us figured you'd say that, TNA. :)

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

May 2, 2013

There's seriously places that won't sell you booze on a Sunday? How do you run a respectable economy like that?

May 2, 2013
Comment
May 5, 2013
Comment

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer

Pages