33 states have laws which allow localities to prohibit the sale (and in some cases, consumption and possession) of liquor. Still, many of these states have no dry communities. Three states, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, are entirely dry by default: counties specifically must authorize the sale of alcohol in order for it to be legal and subject to state liquor control laws.
Alabama specifically allows cities and counties to elect to go dry by public referendum.
Alaska specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum.
Arkansas specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum.
California specifically allows local jurisdictions to enact liquor laws which are stricter than state law.
Colorado specifically allows cities and counties to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to go dry.
Delaware's state constitution allows specifically defined local districts to elect to go dry by public referendum.
Florida specifically allows counties to elect to go dry by public referendum.
Georgia specifically allows any local jurisdiction to go dry, without limitation on how that decision is made.
Idaho allows local jurisdictions to prohibit sale of liquor by the drink by public referendum, but because all retail package sales are controlled by the state, no local jurisdiction may prohibit package liquor sales for consumption off-premises.
Kentucky specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum. The Kentucky Constitution implies that the default wet/dry status of any local subdivision reflects the state of its local laws at the time that statewide prohibition ended.
Louisiana specifically allows local jurisdictions to go dry, without limitation on how that decision is made.
Maine specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum.
Massachusetts requires that a series of questions of whether to go dry be placed on each municipality's local ballot every two years, unless the municipality has voted to allow or prohibit liquor sales in three such consecutive elections.
Michigan allows any city, village, or township in which there are no retail liquor licenses to prohibit the retail sale of alcoholic liquor within its borders by passage of an ordinance.
Minnesota allows any local jurisdiction to enact laws which are stricter than state liquor law, including completely prohibiting the sale, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Mississippi is dry by default; local jurisdictions have to choose to allow liquor sales in order for liquor to be sold at all in the county.
New Hampshire specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum.
New Jersey specifically allows local jurisdictions to exercise control over the sale of alcoholic beverages in retail establishments (liquor stores, restaurants) and to limit or refuse to issue retail licenses.
New Mexico is wet by default, however dry on Sundays until Noon. It is however allowed for local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum.
Wisconsin allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor.
States that preclude dry communities
17 states have laws which preclude the existence of any dry counties whatsoever:
Arizona prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting any alcohol laws stricter than state law. As a result, no dry communities can exist in Arizona.
Hawaii does not allow for any local control of liquor beyond licensing of manufacture and sale.
Illinois only allows for local control as to the "number, kind and classification of licenses, for sale at retail of alcoholic liquor," but such local control cannot supersede state law, thereby preventing any local jurisdiction from going dry.
Indiana's comprehensive state alcohol laws only allow local liquor boards to issue liquor licenses for sale and manufacture; all other regulation of alcohol is an operation of state law.
Iowa state law specifically requires each county's liquor board to allow liquor licenses and follow the provisions of state liquor law. As a result, there can be no dry cities or counties in Iowa.
Maryland prohibits local jurisdictions from imposing restrictions on licensing which are stricter than state law.
Missouri state law specifically prohibits any counties, or unincorporated city or town from banning the retail sale of liquor, but only allows incorporated cities to ban the sale of liquor by the drink by public referendum. No incorporated Missouri cities have ever chosen to hold a referendum banning alcohol sales. In addition, Missouri state law specifically supersedes any local laws that restrict the sale of alcohol. (seeAlcohol laws of Missouri)
Montana state law vests control of alcoholic beverages solely in the power of the state, although county voters may, by initiative, prohibit alcohol sales.
Nebraska only grants local governing bodies authority to approve applications and deny licenses pursuant to state law.
Nevada state law specifically requires each county's board of county commissioners to allow liquor licenses and follow the provisions of state liquor law. As a result, there can be no dry cities or counties in Nevada, except that a few rural jurisdictions are grandfathered into the ability to still be partially or totally dry.
North Dakota state law provides that each local jurisdiction's liquor board must allow liquor licenses, and sets the range of allowable fees.
Oklahoma state law requires the liquor ordinances of municipalities and counties to conform to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, and prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting penalties more severe than those of the state law. As a result, there can be no dry cities or counties in Oklahoma. (seeAlcohol laws of Oklahoma)
Oregon's Liquor Control Act, which is "designed to operate uniformly throughout the state," specifically replaces and supersedes "any and all municipal charter enactments or local ordinances inconsistent with it," thereby precluding dry communities in Oregon.
Pennsylvania state law vests control of alcoholic beverages solely in the power of the Commonwealth.
South Carolina state law vests control of alcoholic beverages exclusively in the power of the state, although counties are permitted to restrict the hours of operation of locations that sell alcohol.
Utah state law provides that local jurisdictions only may enact alcohol control legislation which does not conflict with state law, thereby precluding the ability of communities to go dry.
Wyoming state law provides that each local jurisdiction's liquor board must allow liquor licenses.
Of the 67 counties in Alabama, 3 are completely dry, 23 are partially dry or "moist" (these counties contain cities that have voted to allow alcohol sales), and 41 are completely wet. Within those 23 "moist" counties, 41 city governments have legalized alcohol sales inside their city limits.
In order for an Alabama city or county to hold a wet-dry vote, 25% of the voters in the preceding general election must sign a petition requesting a vote. A city must have a population in excess of 1,000 residents in order to have a referendum to go wet. Petitions can be made to go from dry to wet or wet to dry.
In dry counties, it is illegal to transport more than one case of beer and three quarts of liquor.
State law allows each village to decide on restrictions, and some boroughs may prohibit it altogether.
Three terms describing Alaskan Villages in common usage:
A "Dry Village" bans both the sale and possession of alcohol.
A "Wet Village" permits both the sale and possession of alcohol.
A "Damp Village" permits possession of alcohol but bans the sale of it.
There is wide variation of restrictions placed on the possession and movement of alcohol in the "damp" villages, some villages permit residents to order alcohol from stores outside the ban area and have it shipped in, while other villages require the person owning the alcohol to personally bring the alcohol into their jurisdiction.
Arkansas has 75 counties, of which more than half are dry, and all alcohol sales are forbidden statewide on Sundays (Packaged beer and wine sales are currently allowed on Sundays in the cities of Altus, Eureka Springs, Springdale and Tontitown. Additionally, licensed microbreweries can sell "growlers" for carry-out on Sundays) and on Christmas Day. The issue is more complex than that, however, since any local jurisdiction (county, municipal, etc.) can exercise control over alcohol laws via public referendum. For this reason, some cities like Jacksonville, are dry despite being located in a "wet" county. In nearby North Little Rock, the distinction of areas is even more specific, with a single township inside the city designated as a dry area. In Fort Smith the same situation exists but with a wet city existing in an otherwise dry county. A city or municipality can elect to go dry in a wet county, but a city or municipality cannot elect to go wet in a dry county. Occasionally, in counties with two county seats, one district may be wet and the other dry, such as Sebastian and Logan Counties.
Polk County prohibits the sale of liquor on Sunday. Beer and wine may be bought after noon. The sale of drinks are still allowed after noon.
Baker County prohibits the sale of all alcohol on Sunday, including retail sales and in bars/restaurants.
Georgia voters recently approved the sale of alcohol on Sundays at retail locations, and has limits on the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants. Most counties that are wet are allowing liquor, grocery and retail stores to sell from 12:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.
Brooks County prohibits the sale of alcohol except beer and wine, with no sales on Sunday. The city of Quitman, within Brooks County, has allowed the sale of alcohol other than beer and wine in restaurants only since 2005. The new law was passed by Quitman voters despite fierce opposition from local religious and community leaders.
Bulloch County was previously a partially dry county, but a referendum in 1998 removed the ban on alcoholic beverages.
Fannin County is a partially dry county, allowing for the sale of beer in restaurants only.
Franklin County is a dry county, though several towns within the county are not.
Murray County, in northwest Georgia, is a dry county, although the city of Eton allows the sale of liquor at a local level.
Hart County in northeast Georgia is currently a dry county which prohibits the sale of liquor, yet a referendum was voted on in the general election on November 6, 2007 to allow the sale of liquor by the drink.
Jones County in central Georgia is a partially dry county with no alcohol sales on Sundays, and prohibiting liquor sales except by the drink.
White County, in northeast Georgia, is a dry county except in the city limits of Helen, Georgia and beer and wine outside of the city limits of Cleveland, Georgia (effective January 1, 2009).
The village of South Holland, Illinois, has been a dry municipality since it was founded by Dutch Reformed immigrants in 1894. In accordance with the state liquor law (see overview) South Holland bans the sale of alcohol by not issuing licenses for any business to sell alcohol in the community. The possession, consumption and transport of alcohol are all permitted in South Holland. Other villages in Illinois' Cook County, such as Oak Park and Evanston were once dry communities, but have since re-allowed the sale of alcohol, though these villages still tend to have tougher regulation on alcohol sales than the rest of the county.
Kansas had prohibition longer than any other state (except Mississippi), from 1881 to 1948, and continued to prohibit bars selling liquor by the drink until 1987. Both the 1948 amendment to the Kansas Constitution which ended prohibition and the 1986 amendment which allowed for open saloons provided that the amendments only would be in effect in counties which had approved the respective amendments, either during the election over the amendment itself or subsequently.
All counties in Kansas have approved the 1948 amendment, but 19 dry counties never approved the 1986 amendment and therefore continue to prohibit any and all sale of liquor by the drink. Public bars (so-called "open saloons") are illegal in these dry counties. Another 59 counties (including Johnson County, the largest county in Kansas and the largest Kansas portion of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area) approved the 1986 amendment but with a requirement that to sell liquor by the drink, an establishment must receive 30% of its gross revenues from food sales. Only 17 counties in Kansas approved the 1986 amendment without any limitation, allowing liquor to be sold by the drink without any food sales requirement.
Rockport is a formerly dry town which became a wet township in 2005. The town now issues liquor licenses to full service restaurants. Alcohol may only be served to patrons who are consuming a full meal, and there are no bars in the town. There are also no stores that sell beer wine or liquor in the town of Rockport, as the town still prohibits retail of all alcoholic beverages.
Tisbury is also a formerly dry town which became moist after voters passed a motion at the Tisbury town election on April 27, 2012. As in Rockport, alcoholic beverages may only be served to patrons who are consuming a full meal.
Hudsonville voted to allow alcohol sales on November 6, 2007, ending its run as the last dry city in Michigan. Hudsonville's vote follows the precedent of voters in both Zeeland, and Allendale Charter Township, choosing to overturn their bans on alcohol sales to adults age 21 and older in recent years.
Oak Park had been dry since its establishment in 1945. A vote on 7/15/2013 allows up to 20 restaurants to obtain tavern licenses, they still can't sell spirits or mixed drinks.
Lakeside, a neighborhood within Duluth, Minnesota, prohibits the sale of alcohol even though it is part of a larger municipality. This was part of its charter when it was incorporated into Duluth in 1893. An advisory referendum to overturn the prohibition failed by one vote (2858 to 2857) in November 2008.
Minnesota prohibits the sale of liquor in liquor stores (off-sale) on Sundays, however, bars and restaurants may sell liquor on Sundays for on-premises consumption. However, 3.2% alcohol beer is allowed for sale on Sundays in convenience and grocery stores.
The town of Panaca, Nevada, was southern Nevada's first permanent settlement, founded as a Mormon colony in 1864. It originally was part of Washington County, Utah, but the Congressional redrawing of boundaries in 1866 shifted Panaca into Nevada. It remains Nevada's only dry municipality, only because it is grandfathered into state law.
The other 22 partially dry towns have varying specific rules for "Special On-Premises Consumption." For example, Wilmington in Essex County is dry for on-premises consumption at race tracks and outdoor athletic fields and stadiums where admission fees are charged and wet in all other areas.
North Carolina does not allow alcohol sales between 2am and 7am Monday through Saturday or before noon on Sundays.
Several of North Carolina's 100 counties are considered "dry." However, individual towns may pass ordinances (via referendum) that may allow alcohol sales within the municipal limits even if the county itself is dry. Most counties, such as Wake and Mecklenburg, allow alcohol sales of any type anywhere in the county, eliminating the potential need for any town or city within its boundary to do so.
Town and city ordinances concerning alcohol sales may be more liberal than the county's, but may not be more restrictive.
The only county where alcohol sales are not permitted at all (even in town) is Graham County.
The city of Westerville, Ohio, was dry for more than a century. Once the home of the Anti-Saloon League and called the "dry capital of the world", the first legal drink in recent times was served in 2006.
The village of Bethel in Clermont County has been dry since the repeal of prohibition. But recently, through use of the single precinct vote system, precincts A and C can now sell (but not serve) alcohol. Business must first be put onto the ballot and voted into permitation.
The city of Monmouth, Oregon, was the last dry municipality on the Pacific coast outside of Alaska until it repealed its prohibition on January 10, 2003. Oregon state law now prohibits any dry community from existing (see below).
Throughout the state of Oregon, beer, wine, wine coolers, malt liquor and similar beverages may be purchased in a convenience store, grocery store and similar outlets. However, sales of "hard" liquor are restricted to state-controlled outlets, as well as bars, or restaurants that include a bar. As such, there are relatively few stand-alone liquor stores in Oregon (for example, as of March 18, 2008, there were only 35 stand-alone liquor stores in the city of Portland, Oregon, which had a 2000 population of 529,000 residents). Oregon also has taverns that sell beer and wine only. All outlets selling "hard" liquor are subject to the rules and regulations of the state-run Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). By law, any establishment wishing to sell any alcoholic beverage in the state of Oregon must also offer food for sale, including bars, taverns, music venues, fairs and festivals, and so-called strip clubs. Oregon is one of 18 states that directly control the sales of alcohol beverages in the U.S.
The state has a number of dry municipalities, but no dry counties.
In Pennsylvania, sales of alcoholic beverages are prohibited in convenience stores. Six-packs and twelve-packs are sold in certain grocery stores (Giant Eagle).
Beer, wine and spirits are available for on-premises consumption at bars, taverns and restaurants; no single bottles or cans can be sold to drink off premises. Every bar, tavern and restaurant must purchase a state-issued "liquor license" to be legally permitted to serve alcohol.
Unopened six-packs of beer can be sold "to-go" by bars, taverns, and certain restaurants.
Cases and kegs of beer are sold only by state-licensed independent beer distributors.
South Carolina does not allow the retail sale of alcohol for off-premise consumption on Sundays. However, counties and cities can permit beer and wine sales if the citizens vote for them in a referendum. Seven counties currently allow Sunday beer and wine sales: Richland, Georgetown, Charleston, Beaufort, Horry, Newberry and York. Cities and towns that have passed laws allowing Sunday beer and wine sales include Columbia, Lexington, Spartanburg, Greenville, Mauldin, Aiken, Rock Hill, Summerville, Santee, Daniel Island, Tega Cay and Walterboro.
Of Texas's 254 counties, 13 are completely dry, 195 are partially dry or "moist", and 46 are entirely wet. The vast majority of entirely wet counties are in southern border regions of Texas near Mexico, or in the south central part of the state. The patchwork of laws can be confusing, even to residents. In some counties, only 4% beer is legal. In others, beverages that are 14% or less alcohol are legal. In some "dry" areas, a customer can get a mixed drink by paying to join a "private club," and in some "wet" areas a customer needs a club membership to purchase liquor by-the-drink, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The newspaper demonstrates how variable the alcohol laws can be, even within small geographic areas. "...Move to Burleson, which has alcohol sales in the Tarrant County portion of the city but not in the Johnson County side of town.". Today Beer and wine can be purchased in all parts of Burleson. The only location in the county where liquor can be purchased is at a couple of stores inside the city limits of Alvarado.
Texas state law prohibits off-premises sale of liquor all day on Sundays and off-premises sale of beer and wine before 12:01 p.m. on Sundays.
The village of Ephraim, Wisconsin, is the only dry municipality in Wisconsin; it has been dry since its founding in 1853, and its anti-liquor laws were upheld in 1934 and 1992 referenda.Richland Center and Port Edwards were dry for decades, but bars opened in both communities in 1994 after changes to local ordinances.
The city of Sparta, Wisconsin is the largest community in Wisconsin that restricts beer and liquor sales to taverns and restaurants that have an on-premises consumption license. Grocery and convenience stores cannot sell beer and liquor there. The community abolished Class A licenses for retail sales in 1966 through referendum, when a local liquor store owner in the city objected to a grocery store's application for a class A license. Referendums were defeated in 1982, 1986, 1992, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 for class A licenses. Opposition to Class A licenses in the community is widely believed to be from the liquor store owner(s), who locate on the border of the city in neighboring towns that allow Class A licenses. Local opposition from these liquor stores is also widely believed to be a monopolistic motivation to protect their business trade by restricting it in Sparta. On April 7, 2009, in the Wisconsin 2009 spring general election, voters defeated the referendum questions about changing restrictions on the beer and liquor sales in Sparta, for the sixth time. In the April 5, 2011 Wisconsin spring election, Sparta voted for the seventh time not to change restrictions on the sale of beer and liquor in the city.