As the night grows old and the last call approaches, bar-goers in Maine have to rush to order their final drinks before 1 a.m., the state's mandated closing time for retailers selling alcohol. But with other New England states like Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut (on Fridays and Saturdays) serving alcohol until 2 a.m., some folks are wondering whether Maine should follow suit and push back its last call.

Currently, licensed retailers in Maine can sell alcohol from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., while restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, brewpubs, and taprooms can serve alcohol during those same hours. Funny enough, I didn’t know about these time restrictions until a few weeks ago when I confidently tried and was immediately humbled because it was outside of those hours. Go figure!

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The debate over Maine's last call time is not unique to the state, as many other states have different closing times and regulations for alcohol sales and service. 

Alongside Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire are among the seven states that serve alcohol until 1 a.m. Mississippi, on the other hand, stops serving at midnight, while Missouri serves until 1:30 (except in St. Louis and Kansas City where alcohol sales cease at 3 a.m.). In 33 states, alcohol can be served until 2 a.m., but in Indiana and Tennessee, sales end at 3 a.m. Alaska allows alcohol service until 5 a.m. Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, and New Jersey do not have set closing times, but certain city and county exceptions may apply.

While some argue that Maine's early last call hurts the state's hospitality industry and nightlife scene, opponents of the potential change express concerns about the potential risks of extending the last call, such as drunk driving, underage drinking, and disorderly conduct. Some also questioned whether extending the last call would lead to more alcohol-related problems and strain public resources.

Whether Maine should change its last call time remains a controversial issue that requires careful consideration of various factors, such as public health, business viability, and social norms. As the state continues to recover from the pandemic and navigate the changing landscape of alcohol laws, it will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds and whether any changes are made.

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