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Alcohol days of sale restrictions

Evidence Rating

Some Evidence

Health Factors

Decision Makers

States and municipalities can limit the days alcohol can be sold in on-premise settings such as bars and restaurants or in off-premise outlets such as liquor and convenience stores. Regulations regarding on and off-premise alcohol sales vary by state; most policies that limit days of sale focus on weekend days, usually Sunday. Some states and municipalities also places limits on times of sale (CG-Alcohol).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced excessive drinking

  • Reduced alcohol-related harms

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Reduced crime

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that maintaining limits on the days alcohol can be sold prevents excessive alcohol consumption and related harms (CG-Alcohol). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Overall, repealing limits on days of sale in on- and off-premise settings has been shown to increase alcohol consumption and motor vehicle-related harms in the United States and abroad (CG-Alcohol, ). Imposing limits on days of sale in off-setting premises may reduce alcohol-related violence and injuries and decrease consumption (CG-Alcohol). A Virginia-based study suggests that repealing Sunday alcohol sales restrictions in off-premise outlets is associated with increases in minor and alcohol-related crime (), and a Philadelphia-based study indicates an association with increased crime levels overall, particularly in low income urban neighborhoods ().

Limits on the times of sale may also affect alcohol consumption and related harms. Increasing hours of sale by two or more hours has been shown to increase alcohol consumption and related harms in on-premise settings in Europe and Australia; effects are less certain when hours of sale are increased by less than two hours (CG-Alcohol).

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

As of January 2017, 39 states regulate sales of liquor on Sunday statewide or locally, twenty of these states ban Sunday liquor sales at off-premise outlets statewide (DISCUS-Sunday sales).

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption.

Yoruk 2013* - Yörük BK. Legalization of Sunday alcohol sales and alcohol consumption in the United States. Addiction. 2013;109(1):55-61.

Heaton 2012* - Heaton P. Sunday liquor laws and crime. Journal of Public Economics. 2012;96(1-2):42-52.

Han 2016* -

Han S, Branas CC, Macdonald JM. The effect of a Sunday liquor-sales ban repeal on crime: A triple-difference analysis. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2016;40(5):1111-1121.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

DISCUS-Sunday sales - The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). States allowing Sunday sales of distilled spirits. 2017.

Date Last Updated

May 15, 2017