Blue laws in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Blue laws in the United States vary by state. Blue laws are laws designed to enforce religious standards.

Many states prohibit selling alcohol for on- and off-premises sales in one form or another on Sundays at some restricted time, under the rationale that people should be in church on Sunday morning, or at least not drinking.

Another feature of blue laws restricts the purchase of particular items on Sundays which is an unusual feature in modern American culture. Some of these laws restrict the ability to buy cars, groceries, office supplies and housewares among other things. Though most of these laws have been relaxed or repealed in most states, they are strictly enforced in some other states.

Some states prohibit hunting in various degrees on Sundays.

Blue laws may also prohibit retail activity on days other than Sunday. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine currently prohibit most retail stores, including grocery stores, from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas.[citation needed] This is the opposite of early laws in Puritan New England, tracking changes in religious opinion; Christmas celebrations were banned in Puritan colonies during part of the 1600s, and the holiday was not widely culturally celebrated until the 1850s (see Christmas in Puritan New England).


Arizona previously limited alcohol sales hours on Sundays (10 a.m. to 2 a.m., the other six days of the week alcohol could be purchased starting at 6 a.m.). This law was repealed in 2010.[1]


Arkansas prohibits alcohol sales on Sundays.




District of Columbia[edit]

Washington, D.C. allows private retailers (Class A) to sell distilled spirits, but the District Council requires Class A retailers to be closed on Sundays (Class B retailers, such as grocery stores, may sell beer and wine on Sundays). However, in December 2012 the Council voted to repeal the Sunday restriction. The repeal took effect May 1, 2013.[2]


Several counties prohibit the sale of alcohol and sex toys on Sunday and during certain hours.


Sunday retail alcohol sales in stores were prohibited by the Georgia General Assembly up until 2011. On April 28, 2011 Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation allowing local communities to vote on whether to allow alcohol sales on Sundays.[3] Sales are still restricted on Sundays before 12:30PM. On November 8, 2011, voters in more than 100 Georgia cities and counties voted on a bill that would allow stores to sell alcohol on Sundays. It passed in Valdosta, Atlanta, Savannah and many other cities.[4] Before this, cities and counties of sufficiently large populations such as most of Metro Atlanta already had Sunday alcohol sales at bars and restaurants, with local ordinances to abide by, such as having a certain amount of food sales in order to be opened and serve alcohol. Exceptions were also made by the drink at festivals and large events.[5]


Car sales are prohibited on Sundays.[6] Horse racing is prohibited on Sundays unless authorized by the local municipality.[7]


Carry-out alcohol sales were strictly prohibited on Sundays until 2010, when the State amended its laws to permit qualified breweries to sell local brews for carryout (generally growlers). Restaurants and taverns generally still serve it.[8] Additionally, alcohol sales are prohibited on Christmas Day. In 2010, a change in legislation allowed Indiana residents to purchase alcohol on Election Day.[9] Vehicle sales are also banned on Sundays.


Maine was the last New England State to take off the books laws that prohibited department stores from opening on Sundays. The laws against the department stores opening on Sundays were ended by referendum in 1990. Recent efforts to overturn the laws restricting automobile dealerships from opening on Sunday have died in committee in the Maine legislature.[10] Rep. Don Pilon of Saco has led the effort to get rid of the laws that prohibit automobile dealerships from opening for business on Sundays. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays.[11]

Maine is also one of 3 states where it is illegal for almost all businesses to open on Thanksgiving, most notably the big department stores.[12]

Alcohol sales remain restricted between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. Monday - Saturday and 1 a.m. and 9 a.m on Sunday.


Most off-premises alcohol sales were not permitted on Sundays until 2004. Exceptions were made in 1990 for municipalities that were within 10 miles of the New Hampshire or Vermont border. Since 1992, alcohol sales have been allowed statewide from the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. In both exceptions sales were not allowed before noon. Since the law changed in 2004, off-premises sales are now allowed anywhere in the state, with local approval, after noon.[13] Retail alcohol sales remain barred on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Memorial Day. Hunting on Sunday is prohibited.[citation needed]

Massachusetts also has a "Day of Rest" statute that provides that all employees are entitled to one day off from work in seven calendar days.[14]

Retail employees working on Sundays must be paid time-and-a-half.[15]


The sale of alcohol is banned from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Sunday. The only exception to this rule is New Year's Day, in which case alcohol sales are permitted until 4 a.m. Alcohol sale was likewise banned on Sundays until 12p.m., and on Dec. 25 from 12 a.m. until 12 p.m, until a repeal in late 2010.[16] Specific localities may petition[to whom?] for exceptions for either on-site or off-site consumption.[17]

Additionally, vehicle sales are banned on Sunday in counties having a population of 130,000 or more. Vehicle dealers who keep seventh-day Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday may operate on Sundays instead.[18]

All "blue laws" which had restricted Sunday hunting, in specific Lower Peninsula counties, were repealed in 2003.[19]


The sale of alcohol in liquor stores is prohibited state-wide on Sundays.[20] As recently as the 2015 legislative session, proposals to allow Sunday liquor sales have been defeated.[21]

Car dealerships are not allowed to be open for sales on Sunday.[22]


The sale of alcohol is prohibited in most of Mississippi on Sundays. Also, the sale of liquor is not allowed at all in nearly half of the state's counties.[23]


The sale of alcohol is prohibited from 1:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Saturday through Monday.[24] Alcohol sales on Sunday are allowed from 9:00 a.m. to midnight subject to an additional liquor license fee.[25]

Missouri Statute, Section 578.120, RSMo, prohibits a dealer, distributor, or manufacturer from opening, operating, or assisting to keep open or operating any established place of business for the purpose of buying, selling, bartering, or exchanging any new or used motor vehicle on Sunday. This does not apply to:

  • Sales of manufactured housing;
  • Sales of RVs;
  • Washing, towing, wrecking, and or repairing operations;
  • Sales of petroleum products, tires, and repair parts or accessories; and
  • New vehicle shows or displays when five or more franchised dealers participate in a show or display conducted in a town or city with five or less dealers (a majority of the city or town dealers).

New Jersey[edit]

In 1677, the General Assembly of East New Jersey banned the "singing of vain songs or tunes" on Sabbath.[26]

One of the last remaining Sunday closing laws in the United States that covers selling electronics, clothing and furniture is found in Bergen County, New Jersey.[27][28][29] Bergen County, part of the New York metropolitan area, has one of the largest concentrations of enclosed retail shopping malls of any county in the nation; four major malls lie within the county. Paramus in Bergen County, where three of the four major malls are located, has even more restrictive blue laws than the county itself, banning all type of work on Sundays except in grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment venues. As recently as 2010, Governor Chris Christie had proposed the repeal of these Blue Laws in his State Budget,[30] but many Bergen County Officials vowed to maintain them.[31] Two days later, Governor Chris Christie predicted his plan for the repeal will be ditched.[32] Car dealerships are not allowed to be open or do business on Sundays anywhere in the state. In November 2012, Governor Chris Christie issued an executive order to temporarily suspend the blue law due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.[33] The blue law was suspended on November 11 but was back in effect on November 18.[34]

New Mexico[edit]

New Mexico does not allow alcohol sales Sunday mornings until noon.

New York[edit]

Alcohol sales for consumption off-premises are not permitted between 3 AM and 8 AM on Sundays, while on-premises sales are not permitted between 4 AM and 8 AM on any day. Prior to 2006, off-premises alcohol sales were forbidden until noon on Sundays, and liquor/wine stores were required to be closed the entire day. Because grocery stores are not permitted to carry wine or liquor, the older law essentially meant that only beer and alcoholic malt beverages could be purchased at all on Sundays.

Relatively few parts of New York actually permit alcohol sales at all times permissible under state law; most counties have more restrictive blue laws of their own.[35]

NY State liquor authorities ban new permits for establishments on the same street or avenue and within two hundred feet of a building occupied exclusively as a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship. [36]

North Carolina[edit]

North Carolina does not allow alcohol sales between 2am and 7am Monday through Saturday or before noon on Sundays. Gun hunting is prohibited on Sundays.

North Dakota[edit]

North Dakota may have the strictest remaining blue law of the United States. Many goods and items are restricted from being sold between midnight and noon on Sunday, rendering virtually all retailers closed in those hours, including malls and large retail chains such as Walmart. Prior to 1967 the law was stricter, all businesses were closed from Sunday 12:00 AM to Monday 12:AM. In 1967 changes more clearly defined which businesses were exempt such as pharmacies, hospitals, and restaurants. The changes were made after a 1966 blizzard, after which citizens were not able to purchase some needed goods and services due to the blue law.[37] The law changed once more in 1991 to allow businesses to open at noon on Sunday.


It is illegal to sell packaged liquor (off-premises sales) on Sundays. Sales also are prohibited on New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.[38] Car dealerships are also closed on Sundays.[39]


Organized sports competition on Sundays was illegal in Pennsylvania until 1931, when challenged by the Philadelphia A's, the laws were changed permitting only baseball to be played on Sundays. In 1933, Bert Bell, understanding that prerequisites to a NFL franchise being granted to him were changes in the blue laws,[40] played the primary role of convincing then Governor Gifford Pinchot to issue a bill before the Pennsylvanian legislature to deprecate the Blue Laws.[40] The legislature passed the bill in April 1933, paving the way for Philadelphia Eagles to play on Sundays. The law also directed local communities to hold referenda to determine the status and extent of Blue Laws in their respective jurisdictions.[41][42] On November 7, 1933, the referendum on the Blue Laws passed in Philadelphia and it became law.[43][44]

Regarding alcohol, wines and spirits are to be sold only in the state owned Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores, where all prices must remain the same throughout the state (county sales tax may cause the price to differ slightly). As of April 2015, 157 of the 603 Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores are open from noon to 5:00 P. M. on Sundays. Beer may only be purchased from a restaurant, bar, licensed beer store, or distributor. Six and twelve packs, along with individual bottles such as 40 ounce or 24 ounce beers, may only be purchased at bars, restaurants, and licensed retailers. For larger quantities one must go to a beverage distributor which sells beer only by the case or keg, or 12-packs, which were added to beer distributors' inventories by state law in 2015. Beverage distributors (which also sell soft drinks) may sell beer and malt liquor, but not wine or hard liquor.

Hunting is prohibited on Sundays, with the exception of foxes, crows and coyotes.[45]

Car dealerships are also closed on Sunday.


Car dealerships (both new and used) must remain closed on either Saturday or Sunday; the dealer has the option to determine on which day to close.[46]

Alcoholic Beverages[edit]

In Texas, alcoholic beverage sales are distinguished (and thus blue laws vary) in two different ways:

  • The first way is by type of alcohol sold. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code defines "liquor" as any beverage containing more than four percent alcohol by weight, and liquor sales are more restrictive than "beer and wine" sales.
  • The second way is by where the alcohol will be consumed. Separate permits are required, and differing laws apply, based on whether the alcohol is sold for "on-premises consumption" (i.e., at a bar or restaurant) or "off-premises consumption" (i.e., in a retail establishment such as a grocery store or "package store").

Beer and wine sales[edit]

Beer and wine can be sold for "off-premises consumption" by any retailer that can supply and has the proper licenses. A beer and wine seller may sell other non-alcohol items, and is not required to be closed for business during periods when beer and wine cannot be sold.

Beer can be sold between 7 A.M. and midnight on any day except Sunday. On Sunday beer can be sold between midnight and 1 A.M. and again between noon and midnight. On-premises consumption permit holders may sell beer between 10 A.M. and noon but only with a food order. In certain large cities as defined within the Code, beer sales are automatically extended to 2 A.M. on any day of the week; in smaller cities and unincorporated portions of counties such sales can be allowed if authorized by the local governing body.[47]

Wine sales are subject to the same rules as beer sales, except sales are allowed until 2 A.M. on Sunday in all cases.[48]

Liquor sales[edit]

Liquor must be sold at specialized stores only (referred to as "package stores" in the statute) and the store must be physically separate from any other business (such as an adjoining convenience store).[49] A package store can sell other items, but the store must be closed at any time when it cannot sell liquor.[50]

Liquor cannot be sold at retail during any of the following times:[51]

  • Any time on Sunday,
  • Any time on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day (if any of those days falls on a Sunday, then sales are prohibited at any time on the following Monday), and
  • before 10 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (local time) on any other day of the week.

Wholesalers can deliver liquor to retailers at any time except on Sunday or Christmas Day; however, local distributors can only deliver liquor to retailers between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. on any day except Sunday, Christmas Day, or any day where the retailer is prohibited from selling liquor.[52]


Main article: Alcohol laws of Utah


There are forms of hunting on Sunday that are illegal, such as deer, turkey, dove and duck, and other forms that are legal. The forms of Sunday hunting that are legal are hunting on licensed hunting preserves, bear hunting, raccoon hunting and fox hunting.[53]

A recent grass roots effort is attempting to bring an end to the last of the blue laws in Virginia. The grass roots effort has centered around a Facebook group called "Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All" [54] During the most recent effort the Sunday hunting bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate only to be voted down by a 4 to 3 vote in Delegate R. Lee Ware's (Committee Chairman Republican Powhatan, Virginia) Natural Resources Subcommittee. During the debate on February 1, 2012 [55] in the Powhatan Today opinion section Delegate Ware expressed his concern over the dangers surrounding hunting activities in these quotes. “Bullets travel without regard to property lines—and so do shotgun pellets or slugs or even arrows from powerful-enough bows. And always, for an unsuspecting equestrian, there is the peril of encountering a hunter who misconstrues a horse—or a person—for a deer or any other game.” “Equestrians, hikers, bikers, picnickers, bird-watchers, fishermen, canoeists, kayakers: all of these wish, too, to enjoy Virginia’s great outdoors, often on Sunday—and they wish to do so without the threat inevitably posed by the presence of rifle- or shotgun-toting hunters.”

After the 2013 General Assembly in which Delegate Lee Ware's Natural Resources Committee suppressed many compromise Sunday hunting bills, Roanoke College performed an independent survey that shows there is more in favor of Sunday hunting than are opposed. The independent survey asked the following question resulting these responses.[56]

32. Current state law prohibits hunting on Sunday. Do you favor or oppose allowing hunters to hunt on Sundays?

Favor 48%
Oppose 39%
Unsure 7%
Don’t know/No answer 6%

2012 Quinnipiac Poll - Voters also back 48 - 40 percent lifting the current prohibition on Sunday hunting on private land. The issue shows substantial partisan split as Republicans back Sunday hunting 53 - 39 percent, as do independent voters 50 - 38 percent. Democrats disagree 48 - 37 percent. Men like the idea 53 - 34 percent, while women disagree 46 - 43 percent.[57]

2007 VDGIF Report A SUMMARY OF VIRGINIA HUNTERS’ OPINIONS ON SUNDAY HUNTING The 2006 survey results indicate that 53% of all responding hunters said they Strongly Supported Sunday Hunting in Virginia, compared to 28.5% who said they were Strongly Opposed. This question was measured on a seven-point scale (1=Strongly Oppose, 4=Neither oppose nor support, 7=Strongly Support). When the categories were combined, 62% of responding hunters indicated some level of support for Sunday hunting compared to 34% who were opposed.[58]

The sale of alcohol for off-premises consumption is prohibited between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. daily.[59] State-run Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stores have limited hours of operation on Sunday.[60]

2014 Virginia General Assembly - The matter of Sunday hunting has come up in the 2014 General Assembly as a private property rights issue. A Compromise bill has been submitted that would leave public property out of Sunday hunting. The compromises would also restrict any hunting within 200 yards of a place of worship and further restrict the use of deer hounds in hunting on Sunday.[61]


Historically, off-premise Sunday sales of spirits were banned, and all liquor stores were closed. On November 8, 1966, Washington state voters adopted Initiative 229, repealing the so-called “Blue Law,” which had been enacted in 1909. Consumers still had the option of purchasing beer or wine from grocery stores or on-premise spirits from bars and restaurants. In 2005, the state began allowing off-premise spirits sales in select stores on Sundays from 12pm to 5pm.

On the November 8, 2011 election, voters passed Initiative 1183, which brought several changes to the liquor distribution and retailing system. The most significant of these changes were the end to the state monopoly on liquor sales and distribution. On June 1, 2012, Washington completed its transition to private liquor sales. Under 1183, spirits may only be sold in premises of at least 10,000 sq ft, generally including grocery stores, warehouse clubs, department stores, and some larger specialty shops.

The sale of alcohol for both on and off-premises consumption is prohibited between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. daily.[62]

New rule‐making by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) based on alcohol sales hour restrictions is being proposed as the model for state licensed Marijuana sales per initiative I-502 as well.[63]

West Virginia[edit]

Hunting on Sunday is illegal in 41 of 55 counties.[64]

Alcohol sales are prohibited on Sunday in West Virginia until 1:00 pm Eastern Time.


Car dealerships are not allowed to be open for sales on Sundays.[65]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act". Retrieved 6 Apr 2015. 
  3. ^ "Deal signs bill clearing path for Sunday sales of alcohol". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Voters Say Yes To Sunday Alcohol". Georgia Public Television. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "O.C.G.A. § 3-3-7". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  6. ^ "ILCS 5/5‑106". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  7. ^ "ILCS 5/19". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  8. ^ "IC7.1-3-1-14". 1987-09-01. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  9. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Blue Laws: Blessing or Curse" in Dealernews, Mar. 18, 2010>
  11. ^ "Maine Hunting Laws - Hunting Seasons - Northern Maine Recreation - Maine's Internet Resource". 1995-10-12. Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Russell, Jenna (2003-11-23). "Sunday liquor sale ban to end Romney to sign law lifting the prohibition". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  14. ^ "The General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 149: Section 48. One day of rest in seven; operation of business on Sunday; violations". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  15. ^ "The General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 136, Section 6, Paragraph 50". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  16. ^ "HB 6224". 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  17. ^ "MCL 436.2113". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  18. ^ "MCL Act 66 of 1953". 1953-05-12. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "MN Stat. 340A.504". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "MN Stat. 168.275". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  23. ^ Suzanne Vening - MS ITS (2010-07-01). "Image of wet/dry counties from Mississippi Tax Commission, Alcohol and Beverage Control". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  24. ^ "Missouri Rev. Stat. § 311.290". Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  25. ^ "Missouri Rev. Stat. § 311.293". Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  26. ^ Kaufman, Charles H. (1981). Music in New Jersey, 1655–1860. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 18. ISBN 0-8386-2270-4. 
  27. ^ Strum, Charles (November 3, 1993). "Sunday-Closing Law Retained in New Jersey County". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-25. Efforts to repeal the 34-year-old ban on Sunday retailing in Bergen County, one of the country's richest shopping areas, were turned back easily today. ... Even if the county laws had been repealed, stores in Paramus would have remained closed because the community enforces its own ordinances against Sunday shopping and has vowed not to lift them 
  28. ^ Borough of Paramus, NJ — Chapter 391: SUNDAY ACTIVITIES § 391-1. Findings., Paramus, New Jersey. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
  29. ^ IN NEW JERSEY; PARAMUS BLUE LAWS CRIMP OFFICE LEASING, The New York Times, November 4, 1984. "Officials tried to regulate the effects of the tremendous growth on the borough by insisting that at least one day a week, Paramus be allowed to enjoy some of its former peace and quiet. In 1957, an ordinance was passed banning all worldly employment on Sundays, forcing all the new stores and malls built in the celery fields to close for the day."
  30. ^ "Fiscal Year 2010-2011" (PDF). Year 2009-2010. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  31. ^ "Bergen County Officials Vow To Maintain Blue Laws". Retrieved 32 March 2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  32. ^ "Stile: Christie’s plan to repeal blue laws looks dead". 25 March 2010. 
  33. ^ sides with county executive over Bergen blue laws
  34. ^ County exec makes clear: Blue laws are back this weekend
  35. ^ "Law Permits Earlier Booze Buying". Retrieved 2009-07-21. [dead link]
  36. ^ "N.Y. Alcoholic Beverage Control Law § 64 - License to Sell Liquor At Retail for Consumption on the Premises - N.Y. Alco. Bev. Cont. Law § 64". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  37. ^ "North Dakota Blue Law / Sunday Opening Law". Bismarck, ND: Hoffman Creations. Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Section XXVIII-6". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  39. ^ AP File Photo (2009-08-02). "Changing state's 56-year-old ban on Sunday car sales would help dealers". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  40. ^ a b Westcott, 2001, p. 101.
  41. ^ Ruck; Patterson, and Weber, 2010, p. 95.
  42. ^ Algeo, 2006, pp. 13-15.
  43. ^ Algeo, 2006, p. 15.
  44. ^ Lyons, 2010, p. 51.
  45. ^ Pennsylvania Game Commission General Hunting Regulations Retrieved 2010-08-21
  46. ^ "'Blue Law' for car sales upheld by Judge"[dead link], KVIA, March 22, 2006. Accessed May 28, 2008. "A Texas judge has upheld an old law that requires car dealerships in the Lone Star state to close one day each weekend. They must now choose to open either Saturday or Sunday."
  47. ^ Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 105.05.
  48. ^ Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 105.04.
  49. ^ Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 22.14a.
  50. ^ Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 22.14e.
  51. ^ Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 105.01.
  52. ^ Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 105.02.
  53. ^ "Code of Virginia, § 29.1-521(A)(1) (2010)". Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  54. ^ "Support Sunday Hunting in Virginia". Virginia Sunday Hunting. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  55. ^
  56. ^ "Roanoke College Independent Scientific Poll Regarding 2013 General Assembly Issues" (PDF). 
  57. ^ "2012 Quinnipiac Post General Assembly Poll". 
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ "SB 154 Hunting; allowed on Sundays under certain circumstances". 
  62. ^ "WAC 314-11-070". Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  63. ^ "I-502". Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  64. ^ "West Virginia DNR -- Sunday Hunting". 10 November 2005. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  65. ^ "Why Are All Wisconsin Car Dealers Closed on Sundays?". Retrieved 2011-10-07.