Welcome to de Blasio’s New York, summertime edition. The latest casualty in the city’s war against
fun minor legal infractions is that oldest and greatest of fair weather traditions, namely, drinking in public.
Via the New York Post, the NYPD handed out over three times as many ticket to beach-goers in the Rockaways this Memorial Day weekend for offenses like open containers, walking dogs, public urination, and walking on the rocks. Enforcing these so-called “quality of life” violations has long been a hallmark of NYPD chief Bill Bratton’s policing strategy, and he’s been engaging in this kind of discipline all year long, notably by enforcing the jaywalking law.
However, while the jaywalking crackdown was at least in part a response to some very high-profile traffic-related pedestrian deaths and has since slowed down, the ticketing of beach-goers during the year’s first summer weekend sets a pretty ominous precedent for the rest of the beach season. It’s pretty clear, too, that this is part of a much larger effort to
pad the city’s coffers with ticket income catch scofflaws, because, as the Post reports, “on the beach, cops have fanned out—some in plain clothes, others on four-wheelers—to catch rule breakers.”
We think this is as good a time as any to remind everyone of the big open container law loophole that we learned about a couple years ago: take the label off your bottle and you’ll be fine. That’s right, if cops can’t see the exact ABV of your drink (which is usually printed on the label), the ticket isn’t valid. (This is because, as attorney David Rankin says, “as a general matter, the police must note on the summons the actual brand of alcohol or do a lab test. The reason for this is the statute says the drink must contain more than 0.005 by volume in order to fall under this law. So, the court must have reason to believe the beverage in question has more than [0.05%] or the summons gets tossed.”) You might get written up, and have to fight the ticket, but the ticket won’t stand up in court, so you’ll be ok. (It’s also not the worst time to point out that, as of 2012, over 85% of public drinking tickets were handed out to blacks and Latinos because this city—and this society—is just that way—fucked up.)
Where will it end, you guys? Is the cabaret law going to start being enforced again? Are ferrets going to start policing the street a la the weasels in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Who’s to say where it will end? Be careful out there and remove your wine/beer/bourbon labels before drinking (responsibly!) on the beach, because nothing ruins a summer day like getting a ticket.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen