For as long as there has been alcohol, folks have found a way to use it and abuse it. Even during the Prohibition years, people made it, bought it, sold it and drank it.
But our insistence on using it and, at times abusing it, has never stopped officials from trying to regulate it for the good of their communities and, they would argue, their citizens. They’ve taxed it, banned it, limited its sales and made its usage criminal for minors.
At one time, federal officials even threatened to take away highway funding from states that refused to raise the drinking age to 21, matching the national standard.
We take our alcohol seriously.
Despite laws that prevent the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors, there are always those who find a way around. Each year, thousands of folks under the age of 21 take to local beaches with a bottle or cup in hand. Where they get it is anyone’s guess, but it’s obviously not that difficult.
Many of these young imbibers are cited, some more than once. But it’s doubtful that it’s the last time they will drink alcohol before their 21st birthday. Or even that it's the last time they will drink here.
Another law that remains on some municipal books, particularly in the Bible Belt, are bans prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings or limiting the hours alcohol is sold.
In this sensitive climate where church and state are obligated to sit on different sides of the aisle, regulating whether folks buy booze during church-going hours seems somewhat outdated. After all, some folks go to church every day of the week and not just on Sunday mornings. Wednesday nights are important for many churches. Catholics have long been attending Saturday evening Mass in lieu of Sunday services.
The Sunday morning ban isn’t the only alcohol sales law on local books. Some of the hours between 2 and 7 a.m. are also off limits, depending on where you are.
Of course, people find ways around this, too. In some parts of Northwest Florida, all you have to do is cross the street to another municipality to buy alcohol at a forbidden hour.
Destin is in the process of discussing changes to its Sunday morning alcohol ban and it seems likely that other municipalities will follow suit.
You can’t keep people from drinking. And you can’t make them go to church. What you can do is keep laws on the books that make sense and provide businesses with equal footing, regardless of which side of the street they’re on.
Laws are made for reasons and those reasons can change suddenly, or over a protracted period of time. In this day and age, are folks buying a six-pack on Sunday mornings really society's biggest problems?
Government entities would do well to review the laws on their books and make sure the ones they’re enforcing are the ones that make the most sense for their communities and citizens.