- 1 History
- 2 Alcohol law by country
- 3 Prohibition
- 3.1 Outright prohibition of alcohol
- 3.2 Drunk driving laws
- 3.3 Prohibition of drinking alcohol in public places
- 3.3.1 Asia
- 3.3.2 Europe
- 3.3.3 North America
- 3.3.4 South America
- 3.4 Legal drinking age
- 4 Taxation and regulation of production
- 5 Restrictions on sale and possession
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Alcohol law by country
- Hong Kong
- UK: Alcohol licensing laws of the United Kingdom
- USA: List of alcohol laws of the United States by state. Alcoholic beverage control state
Outright prohibition of alcohol
Some countries forbid alcoholic beverages, or have forbidden them in the past. People trying to get around prohibition turn to smuggling of alcohol - known as bootlegging or rum-running - or make moonshine, a distilled beverage in an unlicensed still.
In India, manufacture, sale and/or consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the states of Gujarat, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, as well as the union territory of Lakshadweep. Prohibition has become controversial in Gujarat, following a July 2009 episode in which widespread poisoning resulted from alcohol that had been sold illegally.
All Indian states observe dry days on major religious festivals/occasions depending on the popularity of the festival in that region. Dry Days are specific days when the sale of alcohol is banned, although consumption is permitted. Dry days are also observed on voting days. Dry Days are fixed by the respective state government. National holidays such as Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day (August 15) and Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2) are usually dry days throughout India.
In Sweden, prohibition was heavily discussed, but never introduced, replaced by strict rationing and later by more lax regulation, which included allowing alcohol to be sold on Saturdays.
Following the end of prohibition, government alcohol monopolies were established with detailed restrictions and high taxes. Some of these restrictions have since been lifted. For example, supermarkets in Finland are allowed to sell only fermented beverages with an alcohol content up to 4.7% ABV, but Alko, the government monopoly, is allowed to sell wine and spirits. This is also the case with the Norwegian Vinmonopolet and the Swedish Systembolaget (though in Sweden the limit for allowed ABV in supermarkets is 3.5%).
In the United States, there was an attempt from 1919 to 1933 to eliminate the drinking of alcoholic beverages by means of a national prohibition of their manufacture and sale. This period became known as the Prohibition era. During this time, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States made the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages illegal throughout the United States.
Prohibition led to the unintended consequence of causing widespread disrespect for the law, as many people procured alcoholic beverages from illegal sources. In this way, a lucrative business was created for illegal producers and sellers of alcohol, which led to the development of organized crime. As a result, Prohibition became extremely unpopular, which ultimately led to the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933 via the adoption of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.
Prior to national Prohibition, beginning in the late 19th century, many states and localities had enacted Prohibition within their jurisdictions. After the repeal of the 18th Amendment, some localities (known as dry counties) continued to ban the sale of alcohol.
Some majority-Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, Iran, and Libya prohibit the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages because they are forbidden by Islam.
Drunk driving laws
Punishments for violation include fines, temporary or permanent loss of driver's license, and imprisonment. Some jurisdictions have similar prohibitions for drunk sailing, drunk bicycling, and even drunk rollerblading. In many places in the United States, it is also illegal to have an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.
Prohibition of drinking alcohol in public places
Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited.
Japan allows open containers in some public areas, such as certain streets and trains, and allows alcoholic beverages to be sold from vending machines, which shut down at a specific time of night. Public drunkenness is not illegal in Japan.
After its independence in 1947, Pakistani law was fairly liberal regarding liquor laws. Major cities had a culture of drinking, and alcohol was readily available until the 1970s when prohibition was introduced for Muslim citizens. Since then, Pakistan's majority Muslim population has been unable to legally buy alcohol, and advertising for alcoholic beverages has been outlawed. However it remains widely available in urban Pakistan through bootleggers and also through the diplomatic staff of some minor countries.
There are no open container laws in Belgium, and therefore it is common and acceptable to drink on the street and public transportation.
It is generally allowed to consume alcoholic beverages in the street in Denmark. However, there are a few exceptions such. pedestrian streets, squares and shopping centers. Normally it is not allowed to consume alcohol in buses, but on the train is legal. All these permissions only when consumed in moderation. Very drunk people can be arrested.
It is legal and quite common to drink alcohol (mainly beer) in the street in Germany. Unlike some other European countries, it is also socially accepted to drink beer in public transportation.
Under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, it is an offence for you to be so drunk in a public place that you could reasonably be presumed to be a danger to yourself or to anyone around you. If found guilty of this offence, you could be liable to a class E fine and a member of the Garda Siochana can confiscate any alcohol you may be carrying.
It is illegal for a licence holder to sell alcohol in a closed container (i.e., can or bottle) for consumption off the premises in a place 100 metres from the premises. If you purchase alcohol in this way, you could be liable for a class E fine.
While there is no national legislation prohibiting drinking in public, each local authority area is entitled to pass bye-laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in a public place. Contact your local authority to find out about these bye-laws in your area.
Under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 the Gardaí have the power to seize alcohol in the possession of a child under 18 years of age where the Gardaí have reasonable cause to believe that the alcohol will be consumed by a child under 18 years in a public place.
It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places and transport (including personal vehicles), except bars and restaurants licenced to sell alcoholic beverages.
Drinking in public places is banned by autonomic laws at the Community of Madrid, Castile and León, Canary Islands, the Basque Country and the Valencian Community. Exceptions are considered for local festivals and few specific places called 'botellódromos'.
The legality of drinking alcoholic beverages in public places is determined by local regulations. Each municipality decides its own rules concerning drinking in public places. Different rules may apply for different places within a municipality.
Technically drinking in public places is against the law as it is a strict liability offence and requires no mental element of act (mens rea), however committing the offence is enough to get convicted (actus reus), but it can be argued that it is not enforced by the police unless you are drunk and disorderly. Towns and transport networks have by-laws that prohibit possession of an open container of alcohol in a public place.
Drinking alcohol in public places, such as streets and parks, is against the law in most of the United States, though there is no specific federal law that forbids consumption of alcohol in public. Moreover, even when a state (such as Nevada, Louisiana, and Missouri) has no such ban, the vast majority of its cities and counties do have it. Some cities allow it in specified area such as on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, or during public festivals. Two notable exceptions are New Orleans, Louisiana, and Butte, Montana, which allow public consumption of alcoholic beverages anywhere in the city.
It is legal and usually socially acceptable to drink alcohol in public areas.
It is illegal to drink alcohol in any public place or unlicensed facilities. The law may or may not be enforced, depending on the location, time of the day and the behaviour of the offender. Penalties may include confiscation/destruction of the liquor, fines and/or arrest.
Legal drinking age
Most countries have prescribed a legal drinking age which prohibits the consumption of alcohol by minors. Most countries also prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors. Some countries have a tiered structure that limits the sale of stronger alcoholic drinks to older adults (typically based upon the percentage of ABV) Other restrictions that some countries impose is based on the place in which alcohol is consumed, such as in the home, in a restaurant, or in a bar. The age at which these restrictions come to an end varies significantly from country to country, as does the degree to which it is enforced, which can also vary within a country.
In India, the legal minimum age for buying and drinking alcohol is 18 to 25 years, depending on the state.
In South Korea, the legal minimum age for buying and drinking alcohol is 19.
The legal drinking age and the legal age for buying alcoholic beverages vary from country to country in Europe, but 18 years is the most common age, with some exceptions depending on alcohol content.
Some countries have a tiered structure that limits the sale of stronger alcoholic drinks to older adults (typically based upon the percentage of ABV) . For example, in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, a purchaser of beer or wine must be 16 years of age, and 18 years of age for spirits.
The legal age for buying alcoholic beverages containing 1.2%-16.5% ABV is 16 years in shops and 18 years in bars and restaurants. Beverages containing more than 16.5% ABV may not to be sold to persons under the age of 18.
In Finland, the purchase and possession of alcoholic beverages that have up to 22% ABV is allowed from age 18, and for stronger drinks from age 20. Stronger than 22% ABV may be ordered in a restaurant from age 18.
Several laws are in place to limit alcohol consumption and reduce alcohol abuse. These laws have been strengthened several times. There is, however, no legal drinking age. Consumption of alcohol at home is not restricted.
Since 2009, selling any type of alcoholic beverage to a minor (a person younger than 18 years of age) is forbidden; it is also forbidden for people under 18 to be in a bar or restaurant that sells alcohol without being in the company of a parent or other person over 18. Bar owners are explicitly authorized by law to require an ID from their patrons. A poster informing customers of these rules must be placed in any business that sells alcohol.
Advertisement of alcoholic beverages is restricted, and their sale requires a license. Petrol stations may not sell refrigerated alcoholic beverages and may not sell any form of alcohol after 6 p.m. Bars may not offer a “happy hour” without also offering a discount on non-alcoholic drinks.
Beer and wine may be consumed by minors at the age of 14 in public and in the company of their legal guardian.
One must be 16 years old to buy beer and wine and 18 to buy spirits.
In Iceland, purchasers and possessors of alcoholic beverages must be 20 years of age.
The minimum age for working in a public place where alcohol is sold is also 16 years.
In Norway, the purchase and possession of alcoholic beverages that have up to 22% ABV is allowed from age 18, and for stronger drinks from age 20. You can buy beer and alcoholic beverages below the limit of 4,7% in grocery stores in weekdays until 20:00 in the evening. At Saturday until 18:00, Sunday no trading in alcoholic beverages is allowed in grocery shops. Beverages over 4,7% is sold exclusively at "Vinmonopolet" from Monday through Saturday and in restaurants and bars all the week. Alcoholic beverages will not be served on Saturdays and Sundays until noon. Home distillation is illegal but common in the northern parts of Norway. You can legally buy wine and beer-compounds in your grocery-shop and brew for your own use.
In Sweden, alcoholic beverages with less than 2.25% ABV (low-alcohol beer and cider) are sold without any age limit in grocery stores, while alcoholic beverages with less than 3.5% ABV (stronger low-alcohol beer and cider) may be bought in grocery stores from the age of 18. Alcoholic beverages with more than 3.5% ABV (beer, cider, wine and spirits) may be bought at restaurants, bars and nightclubs from the age of 18 and in the state-run stores (Systembolaget) from the age of 20. A significant proportion of spirits consumed in Sweden is bought abroad during holidays or business trips in countries with lower alcohol taxes (e.g. Denmark, Estonia, Germany and Spain) or duty-free on the Baltic Sea ferries passing Åland, which due to its special status within the EU but outside the EU tax union enables duty-free shopping.
In the United Kingdom, the minimum age to purchase alcohol is 18 years in a bar or off-license establishment (e.g. a supermarket).
In private, the minimum age to consume alcohol is 5 years.
In Scotland, persons aged 16 and 17 may drink beer, wine, or cider with a meal in a hotel or restaurant. In England and Wales, the same rules apply, but an adult over the age of 18 must be present and buy the alcohol.
In Jamaica, the legal age to obtain alcohol is 18.
The legal age for buying and possessing (but not necessarily for drinking) has been 21 years in every state since shortly after the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, which tied federal highway funds to states' maintaining a minimum drinking age of 21.
Despite a rekindled national debate in 2008 on the established drinking age (initiated by several university presidents), a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll found in September 2008 that 76% of New Jerseyans supported leaving the legal drinking age at 21 years. No significant differences emerged when considering gender, political affiliation, or region. However, parents of younger children were more likely to support keeping the age at 21 (83%) than parents of college-age students (67%).
Seventeen states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia have laws against possession of alcohol by minors, but they do not prohibit its consumption by minors.
Fourteen states (Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and Virginia) specifically permit minors to drink alcohol given to them by their parents or by someone entrusted by their parents.
Many states also permit the drinking of alcohol under the age of 21 for religious or health reasons.
Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, has maintained a drinking age of 18.
United States customs laws stipulate that no person under the age of 21 may bring any type or quantity of alcohol into the country.
Taxation and regulation of production
Alcoholic beverages are subject to excise taxes. Additionally, they fall under different jurisdiction than other consumables in many countries, with highly specific regulations and licensing on alcohol content, methods of production, and retail and restaurant sales. Alcohol tax is an excise tax, and while a demerit tax, is a significant source of revenue for governments. The U.S. government collected 5.8 billion in 2009. In history, the Whiskey Rebellion was caused by the introduction of an alcohol tax to fund the newly formed U.S. federal government.
In most countries, the commercial production of alcoholic beverages requires a license from the government, which then levies a tax upon these beverages. In many countries, alcoholic beverages may be produced in the home for personal use without a license or tax.
Home production of wine and beer is not regulated. Home distillation of spirits is legal but not common because it is subject to the same tax as spirits sold commercially. Danish alcohol taxes are significantly lower than in Sweden and Norway, but higher than those of most other European countries.
New Zealand is one of the few countries where it is legal to produce any form of alcohol for personal use, including spirits. The beverages produced are neither licensed nor taxed. This situation has made the use of home distillation equipment quite popular.
The production of distilled beverages is regulated and taxed. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly a single organization called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) enforce federal laws and regulations related to alcohol. All packaging of alcoholic products must contain a health warning from the Surgeon General.
In most of the American states, individuals may produce wine and beer for personal consumption (but not for sale) in amounts [usually] of up to 100 gallons per adult per year, but no more than 200 gallons per household per year.
The illegal (i.e., unlicensed) production of liquor in the United States is commonly referred to as “moonshining.” Illegally produced liquor (popularly called “white lightning”) is not aged and contains a high percentage of alcohol.
Restrictions on sale and possession
The state-run vendor is called Systembolaget in Sweden, Vinmonopolet in Norway, Alko in Finland, Vínbúð in Iceland, and Rúsdrekkasøla Landsins in the Faroe Islands. The first such monopoly was in Falun in the 19th century.
The governments of these countries claim that the purpose of these monopolies is to reduce the consumption of alcohol. In the Nordic countries, binge drinking is an ancient tradition. These monopolies have had success in the past, but since joining the European Union it has been difficult to curb the importation of liquor, legal or illegal, from other EU countries. That has made the monopolies less effective in reducing excessive drinking.
There is an ongoing debate over whether to retain these state-run monopolies.
In Norway, beers with an alcohol content of 4.74% by volume or less can be legally sold in grocery stores. Stronger beers, wines, and spirits can only be bought at government monopoly vendors. All alcoholic beverages can be bought at licensed bars and restaurants, but they must be consumed on the premises.
Norway levies some of the heaviest taxes in the world on alcoholic beverages, particularly on spirits. These taxes are levied on top of a 25% VAT on all goods and services. For example, 700 mL of Absolut Vodka currently retails at 299 NOK, which is about US $54.
In Sweden, beer with a low alcohol content (called folköl, 2.25% to 3.5% alcohol by weight) can be sold in regular stores to anyone aged 18 or over, but beverages with a high alcohol content can only be sold by government-run vendors to people aged 20 or older, or by licensed facilities such as restaurants and bars, where the age limit is 18. Alcoholic drinks bought at these licensed facilities must be consumed on the premises; nor is it allowed to bring and consume your own alcoholic beverages bought elsewhere.
In most Canadian provinces, there is a very tightly held government monopoly on the sale of alcohol. Two examples of this are the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and the Liquor Distribution Branch of British Columbia. Government control and supervision of the sale of alcohol was a compromise devised in the 1920s between “drys” and “wets” for the purpose of ending Prohibition in Canada. Some provinces have moved away from government monopoly. In Alberta, privately owned liquor stores exist, and in Quebec a limited number of wines and liquors can be purchased at dépanneurs and grocery stores.
Canada has some of the highest excise taxes on alcohol in the world. These taxes are a source of income for governments and are also meant to discourage drinking. (See Taxation in Canada.) The province of Quebec has the lowest overall prices of alcohol in Canada.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol vary from province to province. In Alberta, changes introduced in 2008 included a ban on “happy hour,” minimum prices, and a limit on the number of drinks a person can buy in a bar or pub at one time after 1 a.m.
In the United States, the sale of alcoholic beverages is controlled by the individual states, by the counties or parishes within each state, and by local jurisdictions. In many states, alcohol can only be sold by staff qualified to serve responsibly through alcohol server training. A county that prohibits the sale of alcohol is known as a dry county. In some states, liquor sales are prohibited on Sunday by a blue law.
The places where alcohol may be sold or possessed, like all other alcohol restrictions, vary from state to state. Some states, like Louisiana, Missouri, and Connecticut, have very permissive alcohol laws, whereas other states, like Kansas and Oklahoma, have very strict alcohol laws.
In 18 alcoholic beverage control states, the state has a monopoly on the sale of liquor. For example, in most of North Carolina, beer and wine may be purchased in retail stores, but distilled spirits are only available at state ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) stores. In Maryland, distilled spirits are available in liquor stores except in Montgomery County, where they are sold only by the county.
Most states follow a three-tier system in which producers cannot sell directly to retailers, but must instead sell to distributors, who in turn sell to retailers. Exceptions often exist for brewpubs (pubs which brew their own beer) and wineries, which are allowed to sell their products directly to consumers.
Most states also do not allow open containers of alcohol inside moving vehicles. The federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century of 1999 mandates that, if a state does not prohibit open containers of alcohol inside moving vehicles, then a percentage of its federal highway funds will be transferred instead to alcohol education programs each year. As of December, 2011, only one state (Mississippi) allows drivers to consume alcohol while driving (below the 0.08% limit), and only five states (Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, and West Virginia) allow passengers to consume alcohol while the vehicle is in motion.
Five U.S. states limit alcohol sales in grocery stores and gas stations to beer at or below 3.2% alcohol: Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah. In these states, stronger beverages are restricted to liquor stores. In Oklahoma, liquor stores may not refrigerate any beverage containing more than 3.2% alcohol. Missouri also has provisions for 3.2% beer, but its permissive alcohol laws (when compared to other states) make this type of beer a rarity.
Pennsylvania is starting to allow grocery stores and gas stations to sell alcohol. Wines and spirits are still sold at locations called "state stores," but wine kiosks are starting to be put in at grocery stores. The kiosks are connected to a database in Harrisburg, and purchasers must present valid ID, signature, and look into a camera for facial identification to purchase wine. Only after all of these measures are passed is the individual allowed to obtain 1 bottle of wine from the "vending machine". The kiosks are only open during the same hours as the state run liquor stores, and are not open on Sundays.
- Wine law
- Alcohol exclusion laws
- Alcohol advertising
- List of alcohol laws by state in the United States
- Alcohol laws in Germany
- Drunk driving law by country
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