Keg registration is a controversial law going on the books around the country, at a state level. Keg registration is a process by which kegs and taps are affected by an additional tax and tagged so that they can be traced. Allegedly, this tagging process allows authorities to curb underage drinking. According to the Alcohol Policy Information System, a project of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, keg registration laws "require wholesalers or retailers to attach a tag, sticker, or engraving with an identification number to kegs exceeding a specified capacity (two to eight gallon minimum depending on the State)". The tags are signed out with the buyers name, address, and state ID number so that if officers are able to bust a keg party where underage drinking is observed, they are able to trace the kegs easily back to the purchaser.
Keg sellers have quibbled all over the country when they see the keg registration laws coming. It is a hassle for the average keg seller to have to write down the address and ID number from everyone who buys a keg from them, and the additional tax is a burden they do not relish. Politicians and police authorities relish the idea, of course, as a way to maintain any further amount of control over the flow of alcoholic beverages and flex their muscle.
While, in theory, the keg registration should allow authorities to track down the buyer of kegs found at parties with underage drinking present, there have been few if any reports of this law working to curb underage drinking.
According to College newspaper the Daily Iowian earlier this year (7/15/08):
A keg-registration law passed in 2007 apparently has yet to be effective in combating underage drinking. One year after the measure became law, many in Iowa City have felt no effect. "I know of someone who purchased six kegs for a couple underage parties [last] fall," said UI graduate Claire Goldenberg, 22. "It's not stopping anything."
After much research, the only report found was about some fellows who stole kegs off of a person's porch and tried to erroneously claim the deposit for the kegs. The shopkeeper ended up being suspicious, and when the ID numbers didn't match, he called the police who foiled the deposit stealing scam. As reported in the Daily Iowian 7/15/08:
"...when two middle-age men strolled into the Liquor House in October 2007 in hopes of cashing in the nine empty kegs they carried, the law proved to be useful. Rather than leaving with money in hand, the men left with their hands in cuffs. The men had allegedly stolen the empty kegs off the porch of the original purchaser", Uthe said.
"When [the two men] returned the kegs for cash, and their IDs didn't match the stickers on the kegs, we called the cops," he said.
Recently, the invention of disposable kegs has thrown a monkey wrench into the works of keg registration. Disposable kegs represent a complicating factor. Some of these units meet the state laws' definition for a keg, but they can not be easily traced because the units are meant to be disposed of after use.
So far, keg registration laws have been passed in 26 of 50 states. See if your state is on the list: Arkansas, California - seven or more gallons, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon - six or more gallons, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington - four or more gallons. The state of Utah has no keg registration laws as such. Utah requires anyone in possession of a keg containing more than 2 liters to have a temporary beer permit, and limits the use of kegs to light beer only.