Sunday Liquor Laws, especially MD: What's the official rationale?

Only Mostly Missus turned 21 today (that is, Sunday), and wished to buy some rum to keep at her place for daquiris and the like. I told her as we were going into the store that there was a Sunday prohibition law on hard liquor, and when she tried, the owner told her the same, refusing to sell her the rum (but more than happy to sell her the bottle of wine she wanted).

Now, neither of us is a retrobate drunk. Nowhere near. So the thought that this would be for our own protection against going into work Monday with wicked hangovers seems pretty weak, especially since one could buy their bottle of rum on Saturday and drink it Sunday if they were truly the type. I can’t believe this would be justifiable reason for keeping the law on the books.

Neither of us is religious either. We’re not being saved from our own temptations by not buying hard liquor on the lord’s day to keep us on the straight and narrow. So I really hope that I’m not being coerced into a minor state concurrance with religion.

So why is this law on the books? If cites are in order, I’d particularly like Maryland, where the law of the land seems to be nothing harder than 14% alcohol on Sundays. All the beer and wine you want is fine, though that can get you plenty drunk plenty fast. Is the law religious? Economic? Just archaic and waiting for some brave soul to risk being labeled a lush by standing up against it?

Welcome to the world of blue laws. Religious in origin, but deemed not an establishment of religion by the Supreme Court. Removed from the books in some states, still on in many others. Get your legislature fired up to change them (har – rots of ruck) or get a petition going for a referendum/ballot initiative to do so (lots of work, still iffy). Easiest solution – cross the District line.

Maryland is positively permissive, compared to PA standards. Why, if thay allowed wine and liquor to be sold up here on Sundays, you’d have to stack the sots on street corners like cordwood. :rolleyes:

This reminds me that the next time I have corporate training at our company’s main offices in PA, I was going to start a “How do I buy beer in PA” thread. Confusing as all heck.

When I was writing the OP, I couldn’t remember if “blue laws” were laws pertaining to alcohol or to sex (prostitution, especially), so I decided to just explain my way out of the bag instead of be wrong and completely change the post against my own intention (“WHY CAN’T I BUY SEX ON SUNDAYS!”). Thanks Gary T, it’s pretty much exactly what I assumed the laws to be, and as I am not willing to martyr my sober public image to be a champion for hard liquor on Sundays, I’ll just remember to get to the store Saturday night.

Hey, just drive across the river. They just started selling liquor on Sundays at the ABC stores in N. Va. (and Tidewater, I think). Yeeeha!

Yep. Inertia keeps the law there. Let’s face it, there’s not much for the legislature to gain by overturning the law since nobody really cares except for the few times they try to buy hard liquor on a Sunday. On the flip side, there’s a bunch of people who would probably pitch a hissy fit over it. Better to just leave things the way they are.

Last year in New York State, they allowed liquor stores (wine and spirits only, beer you get at the deli or supermarket) to open for the first time ever on Sundays, with the provision that they close one other day during the week.

Guess how many stores opted for this arcane rationale!

Wait…didn’t we just have a giant kerfluffle over the state allowing SOME liquor stores to open on Sunday as an experiment (because, y’know, we have to find out if people are suddenly going to turn into lushes or not first)?

Hehe…you can’t! Actually, I was shopping in the local Giant supermarket about a year ago when I noticed a couple of guys from Maryland, I guess, looking puzzled in the middle of an aisle. I heard one of them ask the other, “Where do they hide the beer?” snerk

I stopped and said, “You’re not from Pennsylvania, are you?” I then explained to them where to find the closest distributor.

Call me cynical about the state of American democracy, but regardless of what the voters might want, what’s the liquor industry’s position on the issue?

Is the repeal of blue laws a low priority for liquor lobbyists, or does the industry like things the way they are (and if so, why)?

I wonder what they’d say if one owner opened two stores adjacent to one another (or adjoining, even), and said, “ok, this one’s closed on sunday, and the other one’s closed on monday.”

Not liquor related but in one city (Kansas City, MO IIRC) car dealers actually didn’t WANT to open on Sunday because they’d have to stretch saffing on the sales side and pay overtime or add staff to the mechanics. As long as the law said they had to stay closed, everything was fine, but if the law were changed someone would open, then they all would have to.

Nothing but beer on Sunday here, and then not in the city limits and not before noon. Liquor stores close at 9PM Mon-Sat, but you can buy beer until midnight. No wine on Sunday in the city limits, no stores outside the city limits sell anything but beer. No mixed drinks in bars, but you can bring a bottle in and buy set-ups, then you have to lay the bottle over, it can’t stay upright on the table. You can bring your own beer into restaurants inside the city limits on Sunday (with owner’s permission), even if the restaurant sells beer duning the week.

Yes, yes we did (says the man who lives a half-mile from one of said stores). The hours are shorter (noon-5 I believe), but there are a handful of such stores open across the state. It was interesting that the two groups most opposed to the opening were MADD and the State Store employees (who apparently wanted to keep their day off).

I can’t conceive of any reason why a liquor distiller or distributor would be in favor of Sunday restrictions, but a retailer might.

If I’m Joe Liquor store owner, closing on Sunday saves me labor costs and allows me to take a day off, without losing much in sales. (Except for tourists, most people would just buy ahead of time. Total sales would be about the same.) Why does Joe need a law to do this? Because if he’s the only one who closes, he will lose sales to those of his competitors who remain open.

In Illinois, car dealers must be closed on Sunday. Biggest supporter of the law? Car dealers.

The joke in Mississippi and many other southern states is that it is the ministers and the boot-leggers who keep liquor stores closed on Sunday. However, Random has a point about the storekeepers wanting a day off.

I guess a lot of younger dopers don’t know that up until the 70’s “blue laws” covered almost everything. When I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta there was one gas station that stayed open in our area. It sold milk and bread on Sunday. The idea was that babies and children might get hungry (there were no convenience stores). Everything else was closed, including drugstores and grocery stores. The only businesses that stayed open were the movies. This changed in Cincinnati in the early 70’s and then shortly after we moved to Mississippi in 1975 it changed here. The large chain stores just started staying open and the politicans saw that the people loved it so much that they’d get voted out of office if they enforced the laws.

It is still illegal for a library to be open on Sunday in Mississippi. That won’t change simply because they can’t afford to open an extra day.

Another oddity used to be the barbers union. Even the owner of the shop belonged and they kept all barber shops closed on Monday. Besides having an extra day off, they also used it to control prices. Then men started going to beauty shops and everything went to hell. :wink:

It’s not a staffing issue here in Maryland, where I can go into any liquor store and still buy all the beer and wine I want on Sunday. The stores are paying for seven days’ staffing. I’d think, if anything, the stores around here would be pressing the legislature to allow liquor sales on Sunday, since the profits on that day (only selling two of your three big alcohol categories) are going to be lower across the board, but the employee costs are still roughly the same.

So much information, except for the most important: Which city limits?

A small town in Texas. It wasn’t MD, so I didn’t include it.

Another PA Doper checking in… The funny thing is that now some State Stores are open on Sunday, but the beer distributors can’t be. So, apparently, you can drink a bunch of hootch, but you’re SOL if you want to have a beer.

It’s easy to tell those who aren’t from around here. I was in the beer distributor and saw some poeple wandering around confused. They wondered where they kept the six-packs.

It must be a county by county thing in Maryland. I’m in Harford county and am positive I have bought hard liquor on a Sunday.