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Can a police officer arrest you for drinking a beer?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Alcohol is part of many people’s daily lives or social habits. Whether you have a beer when you get home after a long day at work or stop off for happy hour when you leave the office, responsibly enjoying alcohol can be an enjoyable part of your life.

Unfortunately, because some people make bad choices about alcohol consumption, there are many laws and restrictions about its legal use. You are likely acutely aware of limits on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when you drive. What you may not realize is that simply having an open container of alcohol might run afoul of the law in certain circumstances.

You generally cannot have open containers of alcohol in a vehicle

New York State alcohol laws specifically forbid the consumption of alcohol in a vehicle. Drivers and passengers who get caught with an open bottle of beer or alcohol in their thermos could face an open container violation citation.

The only exception for this rule involves tour buses and similar vehicles that hold a large number of passengers. Unsealed but currently closed bottles of wine or liquor are legal to transport but not to consume.

You usually cannot drink in public spaces either

For decades, New York has had a rule that prohibits the public consumption of alcohol. You can’t crack open a hard ginger ale at the park with your picnic or stand on the street corner with friends enjoying a round of beers. It’s possible for officers to ticket you in that situation as well.

Those facing allegations of violating open container laws may be able to defend themselves depending on the circumstances at the time of their citation. An experienced attorney can help you.