Drinking In Athens

I’m in the minority on this one.

With a 6-4 vote Wednesday, the commission opted against asking the local delegation to the state legislature to pursue two proposals that could dramatically curb the number of underage people who get into bars and clubs and manage to order a drink.

First, though, some credit where credit is due with regard to the commission’s stance on underage drinking. Commissioners did decide Wednesday to ask legislators to pursue a new law that would establish a penalty for using fake identification. They also asked legislators to pursue an initiative to have birth dates placed within electronic bar codes on drivers’ licenses, making it harder for that identification to be faked.

What a slim majority of commissioners couldn’t find the political will to do, though, was to ask for a state law making door personnel at bars and clubs subject to legal sanctions for giving an underage person access to alcohol. Nor could the commission bring itself to ask for a law setting penalties for bar employees who knowingly serve alcohol to underage drinkers. Commissioners Harry Sims, Tom Chasteen, Charles Carter and Kathy Hoard were the minority voice in the failed effort to forward these requests on to the legislative delegation.

I think if you can go to war or vote, you ought to be able to have a beer. Of course I’m from Louisiana and when I was 18, so was the drinking age.


  1. rightofcenter says:

    I’m with you Erick. I think it’s ridiculous for freshmen in college not to be able to drink legally. I think the drinking age should be 18 with RIGOROUS enforcement of underage drinking.

    As I recall, when the law was originally changed to 21, it was not that folks thought 19 and 20 year olds shouldn’t drink, but that it was too easy for those under 18 to drink.

    By the way, I was at the perfect age. They increased the age incrementally year by year, and I was always one year ahead of the law. When I became 20, the law changed to 19. Same with 20 and 21.

  2. RandyMiller says:

    Rightofcenter, you dodged the bullet!

    The only thing I always question with the drinking age at 21 goes back to the war/vote thing. Seriously, if you can enlist in any branch of the DoD, enter the arena of combat, risk loss of life or limb, I think you should be able to order a beer. The same could be said of the right to vote.

    I think the DoD may still have the policy of 18 OK to drink on bases outside the US in their enlisted clubs, if they haven’t changed that.

  3. GP says:

    This is a continuation of a series of “nanny state” ordinances that the mayor and commission have pushed forward in the last couple of years, indoor smoking ban, (unconstitutional) rental registration ordinance, and a moratorium on fraternity and sorority houses. A little effort to enforce existing laws would go a long way as using a fake ID is already illegal, and serving those under 21 is also illegal.

    DUI checkpoints in Athens would be much more effective in curbing irresponsible behavior. You practically have to hit a cop car while drunk to get a DUI in Athens right now.

  4. Rick Day says:

    I have an interesting perspective to offer because I am expanding my 2500 sq ft meeting venue into a convention center in Midtown, right next to Ga Tech. It is a next door expansion.

    And reluctantly, I am applying for a pouring permit simply because the business will not suceed without some alcohol revenue on certain nights and events. For health issues, I do not drink, nor do I like drinking or drunks. But I am a businessman. And I like a decent R.O.I. Even better than an ice cold beer.

    So, I have a great ethical and civil sensitivity to potential underage drinking. Not only do we require the promoters to ID every single person for current BYO events, we tag and physically mark a large X on the hand of anyone not eligible to consume. That is a zero-tolerance policy.

    I do not agree with the law that age 21 is the legal limit because it was 18 when I turned of age. But I respect that law to the letter because unauthorized consumption is not only morally wrong, it can get a business in trouble faster than anything.

    The system is as good as it is legally going to get. No need to drag other people into the legal system like door people. We have it covered.

    Not a lawyer, etc… From my constitutional student and paralegal training point of view, the entire City of Atlanta Liquor ordinace is so vague and scatterpatched with ordinances targeted at driving out specific businesses, in my opinion is arbitrary, capricous and therefore unconstitutional (the threat of that tactic got me out of a tussle with permitting last year; they do NOT want to go there).

  5. CobbGOPer says:

    Well, you can thank the feds for the 21 drinking age. They’re the ones who forced that limit on the states by threatening to withhold federal transportation and highway funding.

    It really makes no sense, especially if they’re going at this from a health standpoint. They want to cut down on health problems as well as drinking and driving. Fine, all that is dangerous.

    But so is smoking, and yet you can buy smokes at 18. Highly dangerous to your health (albeit at a much slower rate).

    As well, the old argument that you can vote for your political leadership and volunteer (or be drafted, let’s not forget that Selective Service is still in existence for emergencies) to fight for your country and maybe die, also hold much water.

    It’s just a ridiculous law, pushed by people who think we need to return to prohibition (and we see how well that turned out). It’s the wrong mindset.

    We need to be teaching kids that drinking is a socially acceptable and perfectly safe thing to do, in moderation and within certain socially acceptable situations. We need to teach responsibility. We don’t. We teach them that if they have a beer before the age of 21, that they’re going to go out and get their legs chopped off in a car accident. Or kill somebody.

    We make it such a taboo that kids don’t learn how to use alcohol responsibly, and know their limits.

    It would work much better than the scare tactics we currently use that result in dangerous binge drinking.

  6. memberg says:

    How about requiring credit cards to give the cardholder’s age? That way, the bartender could at least force underagers to pay cash or commit credit card fraud.

  7. mercergirl says:

    Ok having worked in a bar myself, it’s pretty hard sometimes to know what is a fake id and what isn’t. The obvious one didn’t get in- but I promise you plenty of good ones did. I think making those responsible for using it is a great idea, otherwise you would have people with real ids being accused of having fake ones- like many girls I know because they have dyed their hair or what not.

  8. GAWire says:

    I’m with Erick and some of the others on this one, mainly, b/c I think there is logic to the argument that says if s/o can fight in combat, then they should be able to order a beer.

    There is an underlined social and family issue here, too, which we could spend much more time on, but basically it boils down to: train kids when they’re 18 what drinking responsibly means, and I gar-un-tee many of them will stick to those lessons (there will always be those that abuse alcohol, whether they’re 18 or 21, etc). This will also limit the temptation to drink illegally and use fake IDs.

    Further, what it is that differentiates an 18 yr old and a 21 yr old? 18 is a time of change for someone – the only thing signficant about 21 is most kids don’t have to worry about using their fake IDs anymore.

  9. kspencer says:

    Or, of course, you can take it the other direction. There are counties around where on certain nights drinking alcohol is illegal.

    Me, I’ve got this weird opinion that if it’s legal six days a week it should be legal the seventh. But then, I think an adult should be treated like an adult, whether 18 or 81.

  10. UGAMatthew says:

    Just throwing this out there…devil’s advocate, if you will…make no assumptions about my opinion.

    With 18 being the legal age, I wonder how that
    will play into the high-school scene. Communities already struggle with the clash between highschool and alcohol. I wonder how it’d change if many students were actually legal to consume and purchase.

    The argument can be made that there are already major issues with alcohol consumption among high-school students. By lowering the age, are we granting access to alcohol to even younger kids? Will age 15 be the new 18? Since 18 is the new 21?

    I’d like to hear the argument that this wouldn’t have a negative effect in the high-school communities. I am totally undecided on this one, someone fire away.

  11. Jeff says:

    Just legalize everything and tax it. Fewer people will die, we would be spending a hell of a lot less on prisoners, and we would all be a little happier…Legalize prostitution while we are on this subject too.

  12. gatormathis says:

    “Legalize prostitution while we are on this subject too.”

    Will this make it easier for Jeff’s relatives to find gainful employment?

    Or will the system of free enterprise, and rule of quality over quanity foil them again?

    Stay tuned as we find out, same bat channel, same bat time……

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