State Police Arrest Alleged Alcohol Smugglers
The car crossed the border on a beer run and drove two miles to make the purchase. Unknown to the driver and his passenger, the entire transaction was being observed by state police who followed the vehicle as it returned to cross the border again.
Armed police suddenly surrounded the vehicle shortly after it crossed the political boundary, arrested the couple and confiscated their contraband beer.
Sovereign nations use police surveillance to protect their borders against intrusions by enemies who would do them harm. But this arrest was of two Americans who drove to the nearest alcohol retailer, who happened to be two miles north of the Ohio/Michigan border. And the officers weren’t the Gestapo but Ohio state liquor control agents.
Ohio law mandates that all alcoholic beverages consumed there must be purchased within the state. Chris Eichen, 27, was charged with illegally transporting beer into Ohio. “As an American,” says Mr. Eichen, “I should have the right to go into any state and buy beer.”
Mr. Eichen’s attorney argues that the law under which he was charged is unconstitutional. That’s because the “Commerce Clause” in the Constitution gives authority for interstate commerce to Congress rather than the states.
A judge is expected to decide the case.
For a similar problem in Pennsylvania, visit Busts for Alcohol Purchases.
- Erb, Robin. Alcohol court case taps into old state law: Ohio agents seized brew from Michigan. Toledo Blade, October 17, 2006.
filed under: Legal Issues