All over the nation, Christmas festivities are often celebrated with mulled wine, spirits, and at least some spiked eggnog. However, for many years, the state of Michigan made holiday reveling something of a challenge under its Blue Law. This law banned liquor licensees from selling alcohol from 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve (December 24) until 7 a.m. on December 26. The same law banned alcohol sales before noon on Sundays.
In 2010, the state loosened the regulations against the sale of alcohol during the holidays and on Sundays, but some restrictions are still in place. Whether you are visiting Michigan this holiday season or on any given weekend, there are a few things you need to learn about the state's Blue Law if you'd like to order alcohol at a restaurant or bring home a couple bottles of wine.
History of Michigan's Blue Law
It's tempting to assume the law was one of those holdovers from either the Prohibition era or the 19th century, when several states legislated to protect Sundays and Christmas Day for church attendance. However, Michigan's ban on alcohol (also known as Blue Law, named after the blue paper Puritan leaders used to proclaim Sabbath regulations) was enacted in 1998 and was amended several times before it was given any leeway with regard to Christmas.
The state finally saw the light with the 2010 Amendment and the alcohol ban on Sunday mornings and Christmas was for the most part lifted. Although the rules are much less strict than they were before, you'll need to keep a few key regulations in mind if you wish to purchase alcohol on Sunday, Christmas Eve, or Christmas in the Great Lakes State.
As of 2010, Sunday is treated like any other day of the week: Licensees are banned from selling alcohol from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. Beer and wine can be sold from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a special permit, and from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. without. However, a special permit is required to sell alcohol anytime between 7 a.m. on Sunday until 2 a.m. on Monday.
Over the holidays, Michigan prohibits the purchase of alcohol from 11:59 p.m. on December 24 to 12:00 p.m. on December 25. Planning to wake up with a hot toddy or Bailey's-infused hot chocolate on Christmas day? Be prepared to make one for yourself at your AirBnb or home.
The rule regarding "last call" is relaxed for New Year's, as spirits and mixed drinks may be sold for on-site consumption until 4 a.m on January 1. Licensees do not need to carry a special permit to do this.
Just note that Michigan does not allow BYOB, so you cannot bring your own six pack or bottle of wine to restaurants, either within or outside the regulated hours.
You can learn more about Michigan's alcohol laws through the state's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Exceptions to Michigan's Blue Law
The 2010 Amendment allows communities to "opt-out" of the looser time restrictions enabled by the passage of this resolution. These communities can be any city, village, township, or county in Michigan, and they can choose to ban sales of spirits in the morning or for the entire day.
Currently there are 41 townships, cities, and villages across 20 counties that have opted out of Sunday sales. You can see the full list of communities with restrictions in place on the State of Michigan's website. However, no community has chosen to opt out of the looser time restrictions over Christmas Eve and Christmas since the 2010 amendment was put into effect.
States That Limit the Sale of Alcohol on Holidays
There are 24 states that ban or place restrictions on the sale of alcohol over the holidays: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
You can see the full list of rules and regulations for each of these states on the Competitive Enterprise Institute website.