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Open alcohol container and possession in public can lead to trouble in Ocean City

by | Aug 2, 2021 | criminal defense |

Ocean City, Maryland takes public alcohol consumption seriously. Drinking alcoholic beverages in public is prohibited in the seaside Maryland city under the town’s code. This includes any alleyway, avenue, beach, parking lot, sidewalk, street and vehicle in any of these areas. A violation may result in an arrest.

In 2007, Ocean City police officers made 444 arrests for open container violations with an additional 248 citations given for the offense. In 2006 and 2007, the average dropped to 362 arrests a year for the offense. From 2003 to 2005, the Ocean City Police Department averaged 950 arrests per year for open container violations.

“Alcoholic beverage” includes “spirituous, vinous, malt, or fermented liquor” fit for “beverage purposes” and containing at least .5% of alcohol by volume.

An “open container” means any can, bottle, or other receptacle that is open, has a broken seal, or has had the contents partially removed. So, simply carrying an open container of alcohol is a criminal violation.

Some say that the type of container makes a difference. However, if your alcoholic beverage happens to be in a glass container you are also guilty of violating an additional ordinance. The law is specific about the consumption of alcohol and has nothing to do with the container it is in, although many people wrongly believe that pouring alcohol in a cup makes it legal.

For many years, possessing an open container of alcohol was only a citation offense. In 2008, the town relaxed its open container law, changing it to a municipal infraction typically resulting in a citation and a prepaid fine. However, in 2012 the City Council threw its support behind a request to return an open container violation to a misdemeanor that can result in an arrest at the officer’s discretion.

At present, Ocean City’s laws on public drinking and carrying an open container of alcohol are more strict than state law. An open container citation in Ocean City is a jailable offense with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

A conviction can have long-term effects. Possession of an open container of alcohol can appear in public records such as an online judicial case search and on a Maryland driving record.

A trial in an Ocean City alcohol violation has the same elements of other types of trials. The defendant is allowed to present his or her own witnesses and to cross examine the state’s witnesses.

The state’s burden of proof for an Ocean City public drinking/open container violation is the same as in most criminal trials.

A defendant can enter the same pleas that are entered in criminal cases and may be found guilty or not guilty by the judge or be placed on probation before judgment. Successful completion of probation can result in the case being expunged.

An Ocean City open container violation lawyer can help you if you are charged with a violation. Maronick Law, LLC is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh criminal defense attorney needs. The consultation is free.

We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410-881-4022 or through the website for a free consultation.



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