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Miami Criminal Lawyer Explains, Brown Paper Bags Do Not Mean You Can Drink in Public


You walk into a liquor store to purchase some alcohol and you walk out with it in a brown paper bag. This is a common practice in a majority of liquor stores across the United States. When you walk out you may think that you can simply open the container and drink out of it as long as the contents remain surrounded by the brown paper bag.

The truth of the matter is, as any Miami criminal lawyer will tell you, the brown paper bag does not shield you from any type of criminal charges if you are drinking alcohol in public. In fact, according to criminal lawyers in Miami, drinking alcohol from a brown paper bag could even draw more attention to you, increasing your chances of getting arrested.

Here is a little bit of information about the drinking out of a brown paper bag myth.

Why Liquor Stores Use Paper Bags

Many of the myths that surround the brown paper bag drinking practice come from laws in certain states that do not allow liquor stores to sell alcohol that is not covered in some way.

In some states, there is no law in place requiring a liquor store to sell alcohol wrapped in a brown paper bag. It is thought that the practice of putting liquor in a brown paper bag was started as a way to provide the buyer with some privacy regarding their alcohol purchase.

Brown Bags Can Hide an Open Container

If liquor stores do not have to wrap liquor in brown paper bags, why do they do it? The thought is that the brown paper bag is for the consumer. It is done in an attempt to thwart any open container laws that may be in place.

Open container laws vary from state to state, but the majority of states have some form of law that makes it illegal to possess or drink from a container of alcohol that has been opened if the person is:

  • In a car that is parked
  • On a sidewalk that is public property
  • In a public parking lot
  • On steps of an apartment building

Whether the open container of alcohol is covered or not, you are not protected from getting arrested in the majority of the states in the country.

Public Intoxication

While you may think that holding your open container in a brown paper bag will protect you from open container laws, it does not. It also does not protect you from being charged with public intoxication. Public intoxication is illegal in all 50 states, so if you appear to be drunk anywhere in public, you can be charged.

If you have been charged with public intoxication or any other alcohol-related crime, contact a Miami criminal lawyer for help.

Stroleny Law, P.A. handles a variety of criminal law cases, so call now if you have any questions.

View more contact information here: Miami Criminal Lawyer.

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