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It’s the law - liquor laws around the world - Local Liquor
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It’s the law – liquor laws around the world

We’re all in favour of laws that discourage irresponsible service or consumption of alcohol. But liquor laws vary widely around the world. If you’re caught drunk while propelling a cow in Scotland, watch out.

Five-year old drinkers

Yes, the legal drinking age in Britain is five. Which doesn’t mean five-year-olds can front up to the bar. The legal age to buy liquor is 18, but in private homes it’s illegal to let kids under the age of five consume alcohol. In fact, many countries have no minimum age for drinking, as distinct from buying alcohol. Around the world, the legal age to buy liquor varies, mostly between 16 (for example, Germany) and 21 (for example, much of the USA).

A licence to drink

Drinking in India is complicated. In four of the 29 states, consumption of alcohol is banned. Others have drinking ages ranging from 18 to 25. But in the state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, you need a licence, obtained from a local Government Civil Hospital. Even then, you need to be 21 to drink beer or 25 to drink spirits. There’s no age restriction on wine. Many Muslim-majority countries restrict drinking to non-Muslims, require a personal liquor licence or ban alcohol altogether.

Married women singled out

We don’t know how often it’s enforced, but a law in Le Paz, Bolivia, dictates that bars can only serve married women with one glass of wine per visit. Single women, it seems, are not similarly restricted. Clearly the patriarchal lawmakers did not want their wives distracted from their family responsibilities and household chores. Or their husbands.

No voting under the influence

In Turkey, the sale of alcohol is banned on election day, possibly to prevent passions between rival parties from running too high. But the Turks aren’t the only ones with such a ban. Certain American states also have statutes on the books making drinking on election day illegal.

Freeze on liquor sales

It’s common to restrict the sale of liquor to certain hours. In Alaska, those restrictions are, you might say, token. It’s illegal to sell liquor between 5am and 8am. Individual US states have other unique laws too. In Massachusetts, happy hours and discounted drinks are not allowed. In Idaho, movie theatres can sell alcohol, but not if the film they’re showing has sex scenes. In 2015, an Idaho cinema was prosecuted for selling drinks when screening 50 Shades of Grey.

Take a seat

In Texas, there’s still a law on the books making it illegal to drink standing up. It is apparently permitted to take three sips before you sit down, but that’s it. Researchers, however, have been unable to find any recent cases of non-seated drinkers being prosecuted.

Define vehicle

You don’t have to be behind the wheel of a car to be charged with driving under the influence. In Germany, cycling with a blood alcohol level of 1.6 or more can result in the confiscation of your bike as well as your driving licence. What’s more, you have to front up for a medical and psychological evaluation. In the US you can be arrested for driving your ride-on lawnmower while drinking. Here in Australia, even a wheelchair can get you into trouble. In 2008, a man found asleep in a motorised wheelchair on a highway exit ramp near Cairns was charged with drunk driving. It turned out he was six times over the legal limit.

And as for animals…

In Scotland, according to the Licensing Act 1872, it is an offence to be drunk in charge of a carriage, horse, cow or steam engine, or whilst in possession of a loaded firearm. In the American state of Colorado, it is illegal to ride a horse while intoxicated.

UK pubs are public places

This means, in the UK, it’s illegal to get drunk in a pub. The law states that: “Every person found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty.”  If you ever get to travel to Britain again, consider yourself warned.

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