Why Won’t Maryland Sell Me a Goddamn Beer?
A few weeks ago, I learned the hard way just how easily government regulations can ruin a good night out.
Some friends and I had decided to drive an hour or so outside D.C. to visit Annapolis, Maryland. We were eager to go barhopping but quickly ran into trouble: Being over 21 and having valid identification to prove it wouldn’t be enough to actually get us alcohol.
As it turned out, a few of us—me included, unfortunately—had vertical driver’s licenses. After sitting down at a local restaurant, our waiter told us this meant he couldn’t serve us. He insisted that Maryland law barred serving alcohol to anyone who tries to buy it with a vertical IDs.
“He was very adamant about Maryland only accepting vertical IDs, despite my previous experience to the contrary,” said. Jack Bailey, a friend of mine who was there that night. “I’ve been to plenty of restaurants in Maryland where I’ve been allowed to purchase alcohol.”
We eventually found a restaurant that was willing to serve us, vertical IDs and all, but the incident struck me as strange. Based on some quick internet searching, the experience was far from unique. In Maryland, it’s not uncommon for restaurants and bars to refuse service to vertical ID holders, and the online consensus is that Maryland law requires this restriction.
But the real reason behind this practice turns out to be a complicated mess of local rules, state laws, and overzealous regulators.
Most states give vertical licenses to drivers under 21, presumably to make it easier for bartenders to weed out underage drinkers. In some states—like Maryland—vertical licenses are set to expire soon after the user turns 21, to make this difference even clearer. However, in many states—including Florida and Alabama, where Jack and I are from—vertical licenses can remain in use for much longer. Mine is good until just a few months shy of my 24th birthday. Jack’s is valid until he’s 24.
However, despite the insistence of online commenters—and our server—there’s no Maryland la
Article from Reason.com