In the summer of 1976 "Big Enos" Burdette, a flamboyant aspiring Georgia politician, needs a vast quantity of beer for a rally in his honor, but the brand of beer he needs is west coast beer that at this time cannot be legally transported across the Mississippi, and at least one attempted shipment has already been intercepted by police. To get this job done, Burdette recruits modern day moonshiner Bo Darville, nicknamed Bandit for his previous exploits, for a hefty six-figure payment. Darville in turn recruits his pal Cledus Snow and his eighteen-wheeler for the job, entailing driving from Georgia to Texas, picking up 400 crates of west coast beer, and returning to Georgia, all in a span of twenty-eight hours. To draw off the heat of snooping state police, Darville will drive interference for Cledus in a hot Pontiac Trans-Am, the two of them maintaining contact via citizen's-band radios and the seemingly bizarre lingo used within. The trip to Texas and loading of beer goes without interruption, but the trip back to Georgia begins to pick up complications when Darville is stopped by a runaway bride, Carrie, who is fleeing a forced marriage to the son of a full-of-himself Texas county sheriff, Buford T. Justice. Sheriff Justice's pursuit of his prospective daughter-in-law soon becomes an interstate high-speed pursuit involving police from four states and also the intervention of varied interstate truckers aiding Darville and Cledus as they close on Enos Burdette's Georgia bash.
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