Governor vetoes bill allowing transport of liquor through dry counties

JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant has vetoed a bill that would have allowed Mississippians to transport a limited amount of unopened alcohol through dry counties.

Senate Bill 2526 was passed during the waning days of the 2013 session. The bill would let a person buy the liquor in a wet county and drive through dry counties to another wet county. The bill also set limits on how much unopened liquor could be transported.

In his veto message, Bryant said the bill would undermine illegal liquor enforcement in Mississippi.

He said state law barring possession of alcohol in a dry county is straightforward.

“However, if the law is amended to permit the carrying of alcohol through such jurisdictions, then officers will be required to question every person they encounter who is in possession of alcohol to determine whether the person is merely passing through on his or her way to a wet jurisdiction.

“Further, such a person could create an issue of fact, and probably require a full-blown trial, simply by claiming that he or she was on his way to a wet county. Consequently, the prohibitions applicable in dry counties would be much more difficult to enforce,” Bryant said.

Mississippi in 1966 became the last state in the nation to legalize liquor sales, but only in counties that agreed to exempt themselves from the state’s prohibition. Mississippi has a patchwork of “wet” and “dry” counties.

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