Americans had little reason to break laws surrounding the distilling, transportation and drinking of alcoholic beverages before The Volstead Act, because there were few laws on the books involving alcohol in this country.
Since the repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933, many laws have been enacted. In some states, the state regulates the sale of alcohol and the days and times it can be sold and consumed both in private and in public venues. All fifty states have a minimum drinking age of 21 that concerns the purchase and public consumption of alcohol. The minimum drinking age around the world varies considerably--from France with no minimum age for private drinking to 21 being the minimum age to drink publicly in seven countries, including the United States. The predominant minimum drinking age throughout the world is 18.
Drinking Laws Most Often Disobeyed
Common wisdom would indicate that the alcohol laws most broken around the globe pertain to ones regarding minimum age. Some of the most common examples (at least in the United States) are:
- Fraternity parties. No one, not even the local police believes that keg parties on campus do not include underage partygoers.
- Fake ID's with the express purpose of drinking in bars and clubs by minors
- Weekend parties thrown by teenagers when the parents are away
- Those over age 21 purchasing alcohol for minors
- Tailgating parties before the big game or just any weekly college football game, big or small
- Teenage beach parties
These practices are undoubtedly widespread throughout many countries with the exception of France. Besides the laws concerning age and drinking, there are religious laws, location laws, political laws and days-of-the-week laws, those so-called "blue laws" that still exist in many states.
More Obscure Laws Commonly Ignored in the USA and Around the World
- The religion of Islam forbids alcohol intake in any form, yet a 1992 study reveals that 23% of Arab men drink alcoholic beverages daily.
- In New Orleans, Louisiana, there are drive through cocktail bars where one can drive to the window, order a double martini with olives and drive off. Of course, no one will drink the cocktail on the way to their destination because the straw is separate from the cup of liquor. A reasonable person would assume there is some sipping happening between the drive-thru window and the driver's destination.
- In Switzerland, it is illegal to produce, sell, store, or trade Absinthe. Absinthe can be consumed legally, however. Where do the Swiss with a preference for Absinthe find their drink of choice?
- In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to be drunk in a pub or club. This law is flagrantly disobeyed by many every single day of the year.
- In the state of Texas, the law prohibits taking any more than three sips of beer while standing up. Gilley's Club in Pasadena, Texas alone clearly reveals that this law is not observed.
These are just a few of the many laws surrounding the manufacture, sale, transport and consumption of alcohol throughout the world.
It would probably be wise to examine these laws periodically and throw out the unenforceable ones, those constantly broken because of societal changes, such as, perhaps, the minimum age law and those that are simply ridiculous, such as Alaska's ban on encouraging Moose to drink beer. As a matter of fact, that statement should apply to all laws on the books, not just those dealing with alcohol.
Tess Chedsey is a retired systems analyst, life-long alcoholic and native of Los Angeles, California. She now resides in a small town in Oregon where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean--a setting not unlike some of the more luxurious rehabilitation "resorts." She has been writing articles for over ten years for numerous websites on a wide variety of topics, including addiction. Besides writing, Tess has a passion for world travel and animals.