- THE CONTINUING CONTROVERSY OVER MANDATORY STUDENT FEES
- FIRST AMENDMENT GOVERNS KENTUCKY STATE UNIVERSITY
- A NEW ATTACK ON KEG PARTIES: BUT IS IT LEGAL?
- THE CHICO STATE LAWSUIT: IS ILLEGALLY SERVING ALCOHOL UNFAIR COMPETITION?
- ANOTHER SENSELESS CAMPUS DEATH
- THE RESPONSE TO ALCOHOL DEATH AT CHICO STATE
Newsletter > September 2001 > "A NEW ATTACK ON KEG PARTIES: BUT IS IT LEGAL?"
A NEW ATTACK ON KEG PARTIES: BUT IS IT LEGAL?
A year-old Ohio law attacking beer blasts and underage drinking is now itself under attack. The Ohio Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the constitutionality of an Ohio keg law passed in August, 2000. The law requires a person purchasing five or more kegs of beer to sign an affidavit stating where the kegs will be consumed and allowing the police to come onto the property where the party is taking place without obtaining a search warrant. Section 4301:1-1-68 of the Ohio Administrative Code, known as Rule 68, requires beer distributors to obtain a signed affidavit from anyone purchasing five or more kegs at least five days before the purchaser receives the kegs. The affidavit gives Jaw enforcement officers authority to inspect the premises of the site where the kegs will be served. Buyers must also promise not to give beer to anyone under 21 years of age. Distributors who fail to obtain the affidavits can be fined up to $100.
Ohio fraternity houses that purchase five or more kegs could be seeing some uninvited guests at their parties. According to a spokesperson for the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, the Ohio law is intended to protect distributors from liability for selling to underage drinkers. But whatever its stated intent, the Jaw’s effect is to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to control underage drinking by giving them advance permission to inspect party premises.
Ohio is not the only state to have such a law. New Hampshire, Kansas, Iowa and Pennsylvania all have or are considering similar legislation.1 Maryland has had a keg law since 1994.2
Opponents of Ohio’s law contend that it forces adults to waive their constitutional right to privacy in order to engage in a legal activity.3 The ACLU of Ohio filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, on May 25, 2001, on behalf of Scott Hooper, a professor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Mr. Hooper was not allowed to purchase five kegs of beer when he refused to sign an affidavit. The suit alleges that requiring prospective beer purchasers to give law enforcement officials the right to search premises where beer will be served violates both the United States and Ohio constitutions. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution protect the right of the people to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, houses, papers and possessions. The suit names as defendants Maureen O’Connor in her capacity as Director of Public Safety for the state of Ohio (she is also the state’s lieutenant governor), the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and the Ohio Liquor Control Commission. The suit seeks an injunction against enforcement of Rule 68 as well as a declaration that the law violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution.
Information about the lawsuit and a copy of the complaint can be obtained from the ACLU of Ohio Web site at http://www.acluohio.org.
1 Ohio’s New Keg Registration Act: How it works, MODERN BREWERY AGE, Vol. 51, No. 34, August 21, 2000 at 4.
2 Liz Sidoti, Ohio Cracks Down on Keggers, AP ONLINE, August 8,2000.
3 ACLU to Sue State Liquor Control Commission Over Five Keg Law, ACLU of Ohio Press Release, May 24, 2001, available at http:www.org/press_releases/2001_press_release/may_24.htm.