It has taken me years to adjust to the fact that I need to show my ID to buy booze in Minnesota. Living in Wisconsin, I was rarely asked for ID after I turned 23 or 24. I don't think I was asked for ID at all during the 2+ years I lived in La Crosse.
When I moved back to Minnesota at 29, I suddenly was asked for ID all the time. It was a puzzling annoyance for awhile. When I was in my early 30s and ordering a beer at the Red Robin while eating with my wife and two kids it seemed strange. When a bartender asked me for my ID twice within 10 minutes at age 35, I wasn't sure if it was a personal hassle or just another complete waste of time.
Now, all the people I know who work in the service industry tell me I'm completely over-reacting on the ID issue, that people are just doing their jobs, and that blowing it out of proportion. They're probably right.
If someone is convicted of drunken driving, or drunken assault, or drunken vandalism, or repeatedly of drunk and disorderly conduct—if, that is, someone demonstrates that he is either a menace or a major public nuisance when drunk—then why not revoke his (or, much more rarely, her) drinking license? ...
Of course, the “personal prohibition” imagined here, like the current age restriction, would have to be enforced by sellers of alcoholic beverages, who would have to verify that each buyer has not been banned from drinking, just as they now have to verify that each buyer is of legal age to drink. Obviously, such a ban could not be perfectly enforced. But reducing the frequency and flagrancy of drinking behavior by problem drunks somewhat is far better than not reducing it at all. A ban on drinking by bad drinkers (unlike the current ban on drinking by those under 21) would have an obvious moral basis. Evading it, for example by buying liquor for someone on the “Do Not Drink” list, would be clearly wrong and worth punishing.
The primary reason I'm asked for my ID today is because the server doesn't want to get in trouble for not asking for ID. It's a hassle, because there's no real benefit from the process. Since everyone at the liquor store is producing ID anyway, it makes sense to add some protection to the law. Let's encode our ID cards with drinking privilege information. It's a win-win proposition. People who ought not be drinking will have their access to alcohol reduced. That's good for society. There will be a legitimate reason to ask for my ID. I won't feel hassled, and that's good for me.