Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to 'Brew' an Unconstitutional Law

My friend Scott Wyman reports today that the Broward County Commission finally got around to an ordinance making it a crime for anyone not old enough to drink to patronize a bar or nightclub while alcohol is being served. The penalty would be 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.

It is a law that was pushed by the United Way, initiated last summer by the County’s Substance Abuse Commission, and one that no one really wanted to dare speak against. Let’s face it. If the law is you cannot drink until you are 21, why let anyone under 21 in a bar? And most of the drinking problems in the county are centrally focused in Fort Lauderdale, which has had this ordinance in place for 20 years. The city survived, even electing Jack Seiler last nite. Congratulations to a good man.
But wait, the law has exemptions if a) you are in the military, or b) you are with a parent, or c) if you work in the place, or c) if it is a restaurant that serves food and not just liquor. And that is when the constitutional rights experts wake up and say, wait a moment folks, what makes someone wearing a military uniform get a pass? What about a concert at the Bank Atlantic Center where Billy Joel performs and wine is served? Do we then say no one under 21 admitted?

What if I am 19 and an orphan, why does my buddy get to go in cause he has a dad? What is the rationally based restriction you are creating which treats me differently than the other guy? Why is someone similarly situated to me getting a right or privilege I am not entitled to?

This, ladies and gentlemen, for better or worse, is how law suits get created.

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