Buy a drink; you’re in a government database

In the state of Utah, if you go into a club and purchase a drink, and if you appear to be “35 years old or younger,” a new state law requires the bartender or waiter to electronically scan your driver’s license in order to verify your age.  Of course, scanning your license electronically provides a database of who is purchasing alcoholic beverages, where, when and it what quantities; information then available to the government.   All this simply because a person decides to have a drink in a club that sells alcoholic beverages.

Failure by a club to thus electronically scan a patron’s driver’s license subjects the club to civil and potential criminal sanctions.  According to press accounts, some clubs that have been caught visually checking licenses to verify the age of patrons, instead of the more intrusive mandated electronic verification, are opting now to scan licenses for all patrons who “look under 60.”   Failure to produce a driver’s license means a person would be refused service altogether.  

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a Utah lawyer representing the state’s hospitality association likened the new law enforcement power to a police officer arresting a driver because the person “appeared to be speeding.”  Pointing out the obvious and serious flaws in the new law, apparently has not diminished the enthusiasm of Utah’s law enforcement officials to run undercover operations looking for violators of the statute.

But, hey, what’s more important — the freedom to sell or enjoy a beer, or the desire by the government to require you surrender your privacy and personal information into a database?

37 comments Add your comment

jabster

May 7th, 2010
6:52 am

Identification Nation. It’s getting to the point where we’re getting carded for everything we do. I had to show my DL at the dentist the other day…and they scanned a copy of it as well.

Question: Can I card my server to make sure that they are of legal age to sell alcohol?

Sounds like a recipe for identity theft.

A lot of this ID-mania is born from the hysteria over the 21 drinking age, another topic for another day. But go to http://www.chooseresponsibility.org for more info on how the 21 drinking age is such a FAIL.

nelsonhoward

May 7th, 2010
7:08 am

All scanning a drivers license does is tell the government who is going into a place that serves alcohol not what they are drinking or how much they are drinking or even if they are drinking, it is to verify age. It is a good idea, Utah has more people that do not drink or smoke than any state in the union per capita. Also, the highest life expectancy, it doesn’t get any better than that.
As far as invasion of privacy, the government probably should have the solicitor general present an argument to the Supreme Court having it removed from the Constitution. Privacy of the individual is encroache upon every day, surveilance is everywhere.

Borat

May 7th, 2010
7:20 am

Meeestur Bob…Can’t whee all juz be friends here. These government things that so scare you are no beeg deal. Soon whee will all be calling for beeg brother. You know he is always there.

Mags

May 7th, 2010
8:45 am

So true, it is a horrible law that just destroyed the rights of the people in the state. If there were more people in the upper levels that consumed alcohol, or did not look down on it so much, the law never would have passed. Not all bars use their scanners, and most won’t use them if they know you. At least they kept the database from having the police in watching it as people walked in and out of bars so they can bust everyone that was a bar that night.

arnold

May 7th, 2010
8:52 am

Maybe Utah should consider implanting computer chips in everyone. :-)

John K

May 7th, 2010
9:01 am

Funny Bob, if this was in Massachusetts I’m sure your article would be littered with mentions of “Democrats” and “Liberals.”

Chris Broe

May 7th, 2010
9:14 am

I have to admit that I didn’t know that Miller Time was1984. I always thought MIller Time was the happy hour between six and seven oclock on a Friday afternoon.

Wrong!

I think the government should insist on a breathalizer test before they allow journalists to drive home a point! Talk about a drive-by sleuthing.

Thanx for politicizing happy hour, Mr Barr. Now I’ll never get laid.

scrappy

May 7th, 2010
9:14 am

nelsonhoward – No this is not a good idea & if it provides no information than it is a useless waste of taxpayer expense. Think of all the time and money spent on ‘crackdowns’ of bars that have the audacity to merely check an ID instead of scan it into a database. How could they!
Utah has the lowest rate of smoking and drinking because of the Mormon majority, it is against their religion. It has absolutely nothing to do with database creations.

Weary

May 7th, 2010
9:15 am

What do you expect? Utah is run by the Church of Latter day Saints. A cult is in charge of their government.

Ronaldus Magnus

May 7th, 2010
9:15 am

“A government should FEAR its people, not the other way around.”

- Ronald Reagan

Rational Person

May 7th, 2010
9:35 am

A recent article on the CBS website described Utah as the state where the Teabaggers won out a long time ago. It’s Glennbeckistan.

John K

May 7th, 2010
9:35 am

Just a little sample of what you’ll get when you let religion run the government.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 7th, 2010
9:47 am

Since I don’t consume adult beverages, this causes me no angst. 21st Amendment seemingly grants such a power to the states, and thus limits the scope of the nanny-statism to adult beverages. Think this ranks 3,782 on my list of distressing-concerns.

Jefferson

May 7th, 2010
9:59 am

They wouldn’t do me like that.

ButtHead

May 7th, 2010
10:14 am

No rational person would call the Tea Party the tea baggers, only gay liberals know what that means and they seem to be obsessed with it. Can one liberal tell me what is wrong with lower taxes and less government intrusion? Oh I forgot we need to pay taxes to support those who do not and want the government handouts. It all makes sense now, liberals are parasites on society. Why do we put up with parasites, don’t you usually pull I tick off and throw it in the fire?

Gerald West

May 7th, 2010
11:35 am

Liberty is the American birthright. It is defined as a person’s right to conduct his life as he sees fit, so long as he doesn’t infringe on the rights of others; or, more bluntly, mind your own business!

Restrictions, harassments, and “victimless” laws that impinge on the liberties of Americans should be denounced. That you for pointing out the senseless harassments in Utah.

retiredds

May 7th, 2010
11:42 am

“The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.
Franklin Roosevelt – First Inaugural Address

baker

May 7th, 2010
11:42 am

You failed to mentioned how convoluted of a process it takes to even order a beer in Utah. Most beer is served between 10am and 1pm unless you purchase from a package store. If you want to drink at a private club which is an establishment that serves beer in many different strengths you have to be a member or be sponsored by a member, woa as me if you’re in Utah on business. What’s done in Utah is unlike anywhere else and has no chance anywhere else.

retiredds

May 7th, 2010
11:47 am

ButtHead, the Tea Party is a little late in getting started. Many people, like me, would take them more seriously if they started during the Ronald Regan years and continued their less taxes and smaller government to the present so they would have a track record. In other words they need to prove themselves over a long enough period of time to become legitimate. It they have that kind of staying power they might become more of an influence.

arnold

May 7th, 2010
12:02 pm

Butthead….There is nothing wrong with lower taxes and less government. By the same token, there is nothing wrong with increasing taxes when needed. Cutting taxes just to be cutting them is irresponsible. Sort of like what GWB did. Cut taxes, increase government. Call yourself a compassionate conservative. Mission Accomplished.

Eric

May 7th, 2010
12:26 pm

Thanks for reporting. This is sickening news. Why can’t gov mind its own business!!?

Marcos

May 7th, 2010
12:28 pm

Funny Butthead… but the NRO even said conservative Tea Baggers called themselves that… before they learned what it meant. And now they have created the myth that liberals decided to call them that. Typical conservatives… blaming others for their mistakes.

Logical Dude

May 7th, 2010
1:06 pm

1) I didn’t know that there was a different meaning to those called “Tea Baggers”. I never called them that because they deserve respect for what they are trying to do. They are Tea Party members. Now calling for cutting taxes when we have basically the lowest tax rate in recent memory causes me alarm, but otherwise they have good intentions.
2) Wow, and we though not being able to buy beer on Sunday was tough, I didn’t know it was tough just to get a beer in Utah. What if people brought alternate identification? (library card, passport, etc etc)
3) Did Utah even say what the database is used for, or is it just to “verify” age? (if “age” then I see no worry, if it’s to “track how much, where, and when you buy beer” then it’s a huge waste of money)

Jefferson

May 7th, 2010
1:24 pm

Lighten up butthead, you worry too much.

Ayn Rand was right

May 7th, 2010
1:51 pm

I assume that the esteemed Reverend Sharpton will be there soon to fight for the civil rights of the drinkers in Utah…after all, illegal aliens drink, right?

ChristieS

May 7th, 2010
7:02 pm

Butthead, tax rates are currently at darned near the lowest rates in 60 years. They’ve been that way for quite a while now. You can check for yourself at http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/151.html. Cheers!

Liberal Community Activist

May 8th, 2010
3:11 pm

Mr. Barr,

Have I told you likely how much I appreciate your public service? It takes a lot of energy and hard work to fight “the good fight”. Thank you for your personal sacrifices.

Curious Observer

May 9th, 2010
7:39 am

I once spent a couple of days in Salt Lake City. What a weird place it was! I went out to have a drink. Instead of bringing you the drink, a waitress brings you the mixer and a glass with ice in it. You then had to go to a little nook next to the serving area to buy one of those little airline-type bottles of liquor and return to your seat to pour the liquor over the ice and add the mixer.

I don’t know whether it’s still that way, but it struck me that this was the ultimate absurdity. I suppose it satisfied the authorities that no one was serving mixed drinks.

david wayne osedach

May 9th, 2010
8:34 am

I wonder how long it will be before we have national identity cards?

Rev. Al Sharptongue

May 9th, 2010
12:52 pm

Ayn Rand was right

May 7th, 2010
1:51 pm

I assume that the esteemed Reverend Sharpton will be there soon to fight for the civil rights of the drinkers in Utah…after all, illegal aliens drink, right?

What does illegal aliens or Al Sharpton have to do with this.

I get it!! When you are a small minded racist like yourself you have to try to inject some type of racial animosity into this debate.

The topic is about a database in Utah ( a mostly mormon White state), yet instead of commenting on how the Republican government there has overstepped their bounds you chose to throw a red herring into the debate.
You really do not care about government overreaching unless it involves Obama, a dem or something with illegal aliens.

You may try but you can not hide your white sheet or cross from us, its in you subconscious to be a racist pos.

Captain America

May 10th, 2010
5:54 am

“Let’s just give amnesty to all the poor illegals and raise payroll taxes on working people to pay for it.”
- Ronald Reagan

David S

May 10th, 2010
12:22 pm

Once again in the middle of a Depression, government does everything it can to destroy commerce and hurt business. Any smart Utah citizen will get together with friends at their home to drink and avoid all public consumption until the law is repealed.

[...] his blog for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bob Barr has written about privacy and databases. Barr is a former congressman and presidential candidate (for the Libertarian [...]

Andrew P

May 27th, 2010
6:44 pm

The whole point of the database is so a cop can check the database when he runs license plates routinely from his cruiser. That way he can sniff out a good possible DWI bust with no other clues or evidence. With automated license plate scanners, it is almost as good as having checkpoints everywhere!!

scott hill

May 28th, 2010
12:46 pm

“But, hey, what’s more important — the freedom to sell or enjoy a beer, or the desire by the government to require you surrender your privacy and personal information into a database?”

I don’t agree with the law, but your statement does not make sense either. What personal information are you surrendering? Your driver’s license information is already in the state’s possession.

Big John

May 29th, 2010
12:55 am

After all, it’s Bush’s fault. And, he blew up the oil rig.

HarleyTX

June 18th, 2010
4:47 pm

They have the law of scanning IDs in any bar in any dry county, at least in Texas.. this does not guarantee some devious plot to track and barcode all alcoholics in the nation… it doesnt even guarantee its recorded anywhere.. if you dont like this, complain about prohibition, the real cause of such laws that still exist today.. =[
& secondly, I completely agree with Not wanting to be tracked around town, but if my ID is scanned at a bar.. they have NO way of knowing ‘what quantities’ of alcohol i purchase.. if you want to make a good point bob, keep it realistic…