Outside Party Lines: Street Festival Meets Public Intoxication
Call a Columbus criminal defense attorney if you’re arrested for an alcohol violation
Sun’s out, guns out.
Your festive spring tank top is on, grill is fired up and a 24-pack is chilling in the refrigerator—you’re set to kick off outdoor party season. Between concerts, festivals, block parties and gatherings on your front porch, the opportunities for a run-in with the law can exponentially increase during spring and summer months.
While you’re tossing back a couple cold ones on the lawns of Goodale Park and Lifestyle Communities Pavilion or in the streets of downtown Columbus, keep these boundaries in the forefront of your mind, and don’t pass “Go.” Remember: Safe to booze here, arrested there.
Central Ohio residents are regularly cited for open container; many of them at outside events, not even aware they are breaking the law until they are approached.
“Open container” is the legal way of saying “drinking in public,” an activity that some argue inspires overconsumption and violence. Therefore, alcoholic beverage containers, such as glasses, bottles or cans, that have been opened are not permitted on public property, including roads, sidewalks or parks, or in a moving vehicle.
It is reasoned that the presence of an opened container of alcohol holds more weight as proof of intoxication, and is easier to witness, than the actual act of consumption.
If you are found in public with an open container of alcohol, you can be charged with a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $150, plus court fees. Play it safe—keep open beverages on private property, preferably inside a house, restaurant or venue. On a city sidewalk or street? Your beverage can wait until you reach your destination.
Tip: if you know you’ll be out and about this season, jot down this list for quick reference of where you cannot drink from an open alcoholic drink container:
- In a liquor store (unless it was a sample)
- Anywhere that has a permit, unless:
- It’s authorized to sell beer or liquor for immediate consumption
- It’s authorized to serve beer, wine or mixed drinks
- It’s a convention center
- It’s a sample
- It’s a music festival
- It’s an outdoor performing arts center or orchestral performance
- In any other public place
- In a car, moving or stationary, whether you’re the driver or a passenger, unless
- You’ve paid to ride in a limousine and you’re sitting in the back
Going to Lollapalooza, a bachelor party in NYC or a weekend in Panama City Beach? Open container laws are under state jurisdiction, so the above may not apply. Be sure to do a quick Google search before popping tabs in a location where you could get arrested.
Drunk and disorderly conduct
In the state of Ohio, no offense exists for appearing in public intoxicated. But, the minute you change from mere presence to active belligerence, you can be charged with drunk and disorderly or more serious, aggravated disorderly conduct.
Drunk and disorderly charges come when an individual, who is under the influence of alcohol in public, engages in behavior that:
- Risks harm to themselves, others or property, or
- Offends, inconveniences, scares or annoys others.
For example, the night you and your buddies drank three cases of beer and a bottle of whiskey, with the brilliant idea to jump into Mirror Lake during summer break, may have been grounds for drunk and disorderly.
Better idea, if you’re going to drink, consume alcohol inside a house and stay there for the remainder of the day. If you have to leave, call a designated driver to take you home. The best way to avoid a drunk and disorderly charge is to ensure your behavior does not pose a risk to yourself or anyone else.
Party on, leave your future to a criminal defense attorney in Columbus
Alcohol-related offenses can have damaging effects on your career and future plans. If you’re cited for drinking at an outdoor festival or house party, it is important to immediately contact a Columbus criminal defense attorney.
An experienced, professional Columbus criminal defense attorney from Yavitch & Palmer will review your case and assign the best course of action to reduce your charges or have them dismissed. Contact Yavitch & Palmer using our online form to schedule an appointment at our downtown Columbus office, or call us at 614-224-6142.