A bill has passed in both the House and the Senate in Ohio that would allow adults to legally carry open containers of alcohol within specially-designated “outdoor refreshment areas.” These areas would be exempt from the city’s normal open container laws, assuming that the alcohol was purchased within the designated zone. A final version of the bill will still need Governor John Kasich’s signature before it could go into effect.
This bill was proposed with the idea of creating tourist-friendly entertainment districts similar to those in New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee. The hope is that the bill will be put into action before the Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game on July 14 in Cincinnati. Proposed refreshment areas would sit adjacent to large event centers and sports stadiums or in bar and restaurant districts where alcohol is already common, but currently illegal to transport from bar to bar. Hopes are that this bill will be good for the economy and encourage revelers to frequent multiple establishments rather than a single bar in a night.
What Will the Outdoor Refreshment Areas Look Like?
Under the current bill, each city with at least 35,000 residents could have at least one outdoor refreshment area if they so chose. Cities with over 50,000 residents would be limited to a total of two such open container friendly zones. Other than these restrictions, the zones would be defined by each township or city itself. The locations, boundaries, signage needs, hours of operation, policing policies, and any plans for public safety and sanitation would be up to the individual municipality.
There are only two strict requirements for these zones no matter which city they are in: an open container district could be no more than a square half-mile in area and the legal drinks would have to be purchased within the zone itself and served in plastic containers. All other requirements have to be defined by the city itself (although certain decisions will need to be made in each zone, such as how to keep the area safe and clean).
So far, no distinct proposals have been made for a specific location of an outdoor refreshment zone in Columbus, but if Governor Kasich signs the bill, we are likely to see firm proposals soon. In the meantime, partiers are encouraged to keep in mind current open container and other alcohol-related laws. If you do get in trouble with law enforcement for an alcohol-related charge, call the experienced Columbus criminal defense and DUI attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates today at (614) 500-3836. We have years of experience helping our clients successfully fight alcohol-related charges to get the best outcome for their cases possible.