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Ohio Open Container Laws May Change

Ever feel frustrated to have to leave half a beer unfinished at a bar, because you couldn’t take it with you as you head out? This may change in Ohio soon. Thanks to a bill recently passed in the Ohio Senate, cities with populations of more than 35,000 may soon be able to create specially-designated entertainment districts where open container laws would not apply. In these limited half-mile or smaller districts, patrons would be allowed to carry a beer or alcoholic drink from one of the district’s establishments outside with them to another location within the district or simply drink outside within its confines.

While you currently could be arrested for drinking a beer or any other alcoholic beverage outside on public property, this new law would allow for exemptions in popular bar zones or tailgating areas near stadiums as the cities themselves see fit. Hopefully, this would reduce open container citations at popular events in Ohio.

If passed in the House, the new law could go into effect early enough for the NHL All-Star Game festivities that will take place in Columbus on January 24th and 25th. A similar bill is currently proposed in the House that would allow municipal corporations with a population of 50,000 or more to create entertainment districts that would be exempt from open container laws.

New Entertainment Districts Would Empower Cities and Bring Economic Benefits

According to Senator Eric Kearney, a Democrat from Cincinnati and sponsor of the bill in the Senate, the new entertainment districts would “create new and exciting means of economic development” that would allow cities to be more in control of policies within their districts. The bill was motivated by tailgating demands at major sporting events within the state, especially the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be held next year in Cincinnati.

The Senate proposal so far has been met with unanimous support, passing 31-0 in the Senate, and is hoped to promote tourism and economic development. Because partiers would have to buy drinks at a business in the district for it to be exempt, businesses will be bolstered by new rules. As State Representative Louis Blessing III, one of the sponsors of the House bill, expressed in a press release, “With proper law enforcement in place, I am confident that we can revitalize Ohio’s cities in ways unimaginable just a decade ago. An entertainment district will create another incentive for Ohioans to patronize local businesses, and local governments indirectly, while having a great time in the process.”

We will be happy to see what happens with both proposals. Hopefully, by this time next year, we can all enjoy a beer at one of these districts here in Columbus. Until that time, however, open container laws still apply everywhere in the state, so be careful to adhere to the law. If you do get in trouble for an open container or other alcohol-related offense, contact us at Luftman, Heck & Associates to find out how we can help you minimize its impact. Call us today at for a free consultation with a Columbus criminal lawyer on your particular case.

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