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Overview of Federal Laws about Alcohol

Introduction:

Alcohol laws are federal laws, which have been established in relation with the manufacture, sale, use and abuse of alcoholic beverages. One of the most fundamental questions arising from this would be what is considered an alcoholic beverage? To put it simply, any drink that contains ethanol or ethyl alcohol above the limit of 0.05% is considered to be an alcoholic beverage, by the federal government.

In the constitution, the federal law that governs all the major activities related to alcohol is the 21st Amendment to the constitution. This amendment to the constitution was responsible for repealing the nationwide prohibition on the sale, manufacture or use of alcohol, which lasted from 1920 until 1933.

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According to the 21st Amendment to the constitution, each state within its boundaries will have the jurisdiction of:

  • The import of alcohol within the state
  • The distribution of alcohol within the state
  • The sale of alcohol within the state
  • Rules regarding who can possess alcohol within the state

The state governments in turn, assign the local jurisdiction authorities with different roles and responsibilities, with regard to the above mentioned issues. Thus, there is a mix of national, state as well as local laws, which regulate all of the activities related to the manufacture, distribution, sale or consumption of alcohol.

Laws Regarding Sale and Possession of Alcoholic Beverages

The federal government has given the individual state governments the freedom to decide how to regulate which parties will be able to distribute and sell alcohol within the state, as well as who is legally allowed to possess alcohol in the state. Thus, such laws vary from one state to another, and can vary even from one local jurisdiction authority to another.

However, a jurisdiction followed by almost every state of the nation, is that a minor should not be sold alcohol. If someone does sell alcohol to a minor, he can be charged with felony, and can lead to his license getting cancelled along with the levying of heavy fines. Such penalties also vary widely from one state to another.

Law Regarding Legal Drinking age

According to The Federal Uniform Drinking Act established in 1984, the minimum age for drinking alcoholic beverages is 21 years of age, and most states abide by this standard. If any state or local jurisdiction authority does not abide by this rule, they might be required to pay some amount of federal funding to the government. Thus, most states to escape the federal funding, agree to abide by this law.

However, most of the states also have exceptions in place to this rule, where minors are allowed the consumption of alcoholic beverages in certain situations. Exceptions to the Act can include religious, educational, medical, lawful employment, consent of spouse, guardian or parents as well as law enforcement purposes. However, every state may not have all the above mentioned exceptions in place. One must check the website of their state to know for sure, which of the exceptions are allowed in their state.

Serving of Alcohol to Pregnant Women

18 states within the United States, do not allow any alcoholic beverage to be served to a pregnant woman. However, this has been widely debated across the country, with many believing that the refusal to serve alcohol during this period, can lead to a violation of a person’s rights as a citizen of the country.

Alcohol Limit for driving

There is a nationwide limit, as to how much alcohol consumption is allowed, in the case for driving, which is stringently followed by every state. The maximum allowed limit is 0.08 % BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration). The jurisdiction and penalties, for drinking under influence, that is when alcohol in your bloodstream is more than 0.08 BAC, varies widely from one state to another.

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