Monday, November 11, 2019

Possession of Alcoholic Beverages Illegal In Rankin County


ABC Wet Dry Map Liquor 2019 Most Recent.jpg

Under Mississippi law, all counties are dry until there is a vote to "come out" from the prohibition of beer and/or alcoholic beverages. Beer and alcoholic beverages (liquor) are regulated differently in Mississippi.   Beer of less than 8% by weight and light wine (e.g. wine coolers of less than 5% alcohol by weight) are not, according to Mississippi statues, "alcoholic beverages".  An alcoholic beverage is a substance that contains more than 5% alcohol by weight (other than beer).   

DOR has a great map illustrating the patchwork quilt of wet/dry counties/municipalities across the state. 

As noted in the linked map, Rankin County remains a "dry" county for alcoholic beverages but wet for beer.  To my knowledge, we've not had a vote since at least 2009 to "come out" from the dry county status.  However, since then, several cities and areas have voted to grant certain restaurants and clubs "resort status" to allow the sale of certain alcoholic beverages by the glass.  This was a major legislative victory for economic development in Rankin County and allowed the margaritas to flow at certain Rankin County Mexican restaurants.   Ole!

Nonetheless, if you want to enjoy a nice bourbon or glass of wine in the comfort of your own home, you'll have to: (a) purchase the bottle of wine or bourbon at a package store outside of Rankin County (note the liquor stores just over the county line in Hinds or Madison County), and (b) break the law by bringing the alcoholic beverage to your home in Rankin County.  Freedom!

Yes, possession of alcoholic beverages is illegal in Rankin County (except at a qualified resort area) pursuant to Miss. Code. Ann. § 61-1-17, and § 97-31-27.  Of course, this is generally not enforced but it remains a law on the books.  Perhaps if the law was enforced, the law would change?   Here is a 1989 Mississippi Supreme Court decision that affirmed a conviction for possession of beer in a dry county that was legally purchased in a wet county and also summarizes the history of Legislative action on the subject.  Can you imagine being prosecuted for simply possessing a bottle of whiskey or wine in your own home? 

Notably, Simpson County, immediately south of Rankin County, voted this November 61% to 39% to "come out" for alcoholic beverage sales. 

Is it time for Rankin County to vote?   

Finally, when talking about alcohol in Mississippi, one must mention Soggy Sweat's "if by whiskey" speech. This is a great Mississippi story that simply needs to be told.   Soggy was a young legislature that gave a great speech about whiskey when the Legislature was debating prohibiting in 1966: 

Here is the speech from Wikipedia:

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:
If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.
This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

2 comments:

Jose Cuervo said...

Good ol' Soggy. :)

ceejaygee said...

Where in Rankin County are the qualified resort areas? Do you have a map with those designated areas?