Open container laws are both massively annoying and haphazardly enforced. The mere concept of it offends the notion of freedom and remains the single best reason to move to New Orleans.
The law prevents anyone from drinking in public, which unfortunately requires lawyers to haggle over the definition of “public space” instead of going home and enjoying a frosty beverage.
Brooklyn resident Kimber VanRy got nailed with one of these ludicrous $25 citations and he is fighting it. He’ll probably lose, he was drinking a beer on his stoop when he had the misfortune of a cop rolling by. But he wasn’t drunk, he wasn’t throwing a party or using the beer bottle for lewd and deviant acts, he was just minding his own business in the middle of New York City when the government had to get all up in his grill.
Stupid laws beget stupid legal arguments. Look at what Legal Aid is arguing to defend this guy. The New York Times reports the opinion of one such lawyer, Steve Wasserman:
“This is an open question,” he said of the law. “There’s also a larger constitutional question, if a piece of your private property were being treated as if it were a public place. You couldn’t get arrested for drinking that beer in your kitchen. Now you’re sitting on your stoop. The stoop may be more like your kitchen than your sidewalk.”
Really, we have to get into a Con Law exam to answer this question? What if your kitchen has concrete counter tops while your sidewalk is made of cobblestone?
The cop who gave VanRy the open container ticket told him (after inquiring as to what kind of beer he was drinking) that if VanRy’s stoop had a gate, he would not have received a ticket. So, only people with gated stairs can enjoy some fresh air while drinking a beer?
The summer is almost at an end. In its waning days, we should all be able to enjoy some fresh air and green space with as much alcoholic libation as we can handle. I got ya’ $25 right here, NYPD.
Fighting for the Right to Drink Beer on His Stoop [New York Times]