Can you carry an alcoholic drink in a plastic beer cup while walking down your city’s main street or anywhere in public around your town? The answer depends on the open container laws in your state and local community.
Open containers laws serve a number of goals. Most notably, open container laws seek to maintain the quality of life for community residents and business by preventing people from being drunk in public and preventing rowdy behavior caused by an intoxicated person. Moreover, open container laws prevent motor vehicle accidents by outlawing the use of alcohol by drivers and passengers. Finally, these same open container laws maintain federal highway construction fund subsidies for states. Under federal law, states that lack open container laws lose federal transportation subsidies.
However, not every State or municipality prohibits drinking and carrying alcohol in public places, such as sidewalks and city parks. For example, a few notable tourist destinations, like Las Vegas and New Orleans do not have open container laws.
What is an open container law? An open container law restricts where people can drink alcohol in public. Exactly what a public place is depends on your state or city’s laws, and how courts have interpreted those laws.
Depending on the particular laws and court rulings, violations of open container laws may occur when one drinks or possess an open container of alcohol while on a public sidewalk; inside a parked car; in a neighborhood; and/or in a parking lot.
Open container laws are designed to protect communities by reducing injuries from drunk driving and disorderly conduct, along with many other alcohol related criminal charges.
The city of New Orleans lacks strict open container laws, but it does require people who drink alcohol on sidewalks and streets to do so only from plastic cups. This Mardi Gras destination also prohibits drinking alcohol in a parking lot. Similarly, the city of Las Vegas permits public consumption of alcohol from a glass container on all but a few holidays, like New Years Eve and July 4th.
The main reason that some locales do not have open containers laws is to promote tourism by encouraging tourists to support local businesses by drinking at bars, restaurants, hotels, and in specific districts, such as New Orleans’ French Quarter and the Las Vegas Strip.
But remember, cities that don’t have open container laws do enforce other quality-of-life rules, including laws that prohibit public urination, public nuisance and disorderly conduct.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.