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Ohio liquor regulations target 5 or more beer kegs at parties

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP)–The Ohio Liquor Control Commission’s new “five in five” regulations on the sale of beer kegs took effect Aug. 9.

The new regulations mandate a five-day waiting period when five or more kegs of beer are purchased.

Additionally, the regulations, nicknamed “five for five,” stipulate that purchasers of beer kegs disclose, in a notarized statement, the time and locations of their parties and promise not to serve the beer to anyone younger than 21. Purchasers also must agree that police and the Ohio Department of Public Safety can enter their parties to check for violations.

Beer distributors who fail to obtain the statements from beer keg purchasers can face penalties ranging from a $100 fine to a possible loss of their business license.

Several states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, Kansas and Pennsylvania, have similar laws or are considering similar legislation, while Maryland requires all kegs of beer to be registered with the state government, according to a report by CNSNews.com Aug. 10.

Barrett Duke, vice president of research with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a specialist on alcohol and drug issues, commended the Ohio Liquor Control Commission “for its attempt to protect our young people from those who have no respect for the law and no concern for the harm they cause by enabling underage drinking.”

“The potential for government intrusion in private life created by this law is unfortunate,” Duke observed, “but it is the inevitable response to the irresponsible attitude of much of the public toward alcohol use.

“Our young people are being destroyed by alcohol abuse at a nearly epidemic rate and something must be done to stop it,” Duke continued. “The likelihood that a person will develop alcohol problems later in life is related in large part to the age at which he or she begins to drink. This law should help prevent underage drinking and thereby save some people from a life of grief caused by alcoholism.

“I encourage all states to investigate ways they can begin to limit the access our young people have to alcohol,” Duke said.

Susan Watiker, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, noted that homeowners, under the regulations, have the right to refuse officers entry into their homes without a search warrant, according to The Columbus Dispatch Aug. 9.

The newspaper and CNSNews.com reported that Ray Vasvari, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Ohio, contended that the regulations infringe on the Fourth Amendment’s search-and-seizures provisions.

“The provision makes people surrender their Fourth Amendment right to reasonable searches for the opportunity to engage in perfectly legal activities like being adults and drinking alcohol,” Vasvari told CNSNews.com.

Many people won’t know they have a right to refuse entry, he told The Dispatch.

Concerning loopholes in the regulations, Watiker told the Columbus newspaper it’s too early to tell whether people will try to dodge the waiting period by sending others to buy a few kegs each, but the commission will continue to rely on tips from the community to keep large parties under control.

“Is there a loophole? Sure,” The Dispatch quoted Chuck SanFilippo, executive director of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, as saying. “We just want people to be accountable,” he said. “That’s what it boils down to.”

Tony Cartledge, editor of the North Carolina Baptist newsjournal Biblical Recorder who lost a teenage daughter to a drunken driver five years ago, told Baptist Press that the Ohio regulations are “a step in the right direction. But until they ban drinking in fraternities, that’s not enough.”