ACLU Condemns New Beer Keg Rules in Ohio As Assault on Privacy, Due Process Rights

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
August 9, 2000 12:00 am

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Wednesday, August 9, 2000

CLEVELAND, OH — A new state liquor policy into requiring a five-day advance purchase for beer keg sales and forcing consumers buying keg beer to allow police to search their homes is an unnecessary and intrusive attack on consumers’ privacy, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said today.

“The implications of this policy are frightening,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Raymond Vasvari. “The law already allows the police to intervene in cases where parties become disruptive.”

“But,” he added, “the law also imposes limits on that intervention, to protect the privacy of law abiding citizens. Now the state wants to bypass those protections in the name of efficiency. That simply is not the American way.”

Under the new rules, anyone purchasing more than five kegs of beer must submit a notarized affidavit to state officials five days in advance of their purchase. The affidavit not only notifies authorities of the date, time and location of the event at which the beer will be served, but authorizes — in advance of any wrongdoing — law enforcement officials to enter the premises where the event is being held to search violations of state liquor law.

The regulations, issued by the Ohio Department of Public Safety are scheduled to take effect today. The ACLU is investigating possible challenges to the regulations, but has not yet determined whether to enter court.

“We are keeping our options open,” said Christine Link, Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio. “This is serious business, and the state should know that we are prepared to take it seriously.”

“These regulations effectively require citizens to sign away their right to be free from otherwise unlawful police searches in exchange for the opportunity to buy beer in quantity, which is, let’s remember, a perfectly lawful activity,” she added.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution imposes limits on the ability of police and other law enforcement agents to enter the homes of citizens or conduct searches on private property. Over the last twenty years, court decisions have severely limited Fourth Amendment rights. But in recent years, the United States Supreme Court has begun to more firmly limit the scope of police searches allowed by the Constitution.

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