Open containers in Connecticut are mostly illegal, even though there is a not a statewide ban. The federal law states that no one under the age of 21 is legally allowed to consume or possess alcohol. Even if you are above the drinking age, open containers are prohibited. During the summer when the beaches in Connecticut become more popular, many people get in trouble with open container laws as each beach varies in restrictions. Whether the shoreline is privately or publicly owned can impact the open container laws that will apply to you.
Public and Privately Owned Beaches
Most of the beach front property in Connecticut is privately owned by people or companies and associations. When a property is privately owned, they can decide the restrictions regarding open containers on their beach property and inside any households on the shoreline. These entities have to follow the state and federal laws, but since open containers are not strictly prohibited, the private owners have some freedom in their decisions.
Most of the beaches in Connecticut aren’t owned by the state; they are locally run which means they abide by local laws or state commands.
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A helpful tool for looking up laws or regulations that a particular beach might enforce is the internet or signs in the area. Some districts allow certain things such as alcohol in picnic areas but not on the sand. Or, they may have rules against glass containers, but allow cans. Others might prohibit any alcohol consumption at all. Websites usually detail the items that are prohibited or accepted for the public to adhere by and have fines if they are not followed.
If the beach you are on allows the consumption of alcohol, remember that drunken behavior or improper actions can lead to an arrest as well. Disruption of peace, disorderly conduct, assaults, and DUIs are still illegal actions that have consequences in Connecticut. So, you may not get in trouble in regards to the open container laws, but you might face another, related charge. It’s important to know the boundaries each association or homeowner has and not to cross the line by your actions.
If you or someone you know has been charged for an open container violation in Connecticut, contact my office for help. I can look at your specific case and find an attorney that will fight for you and your rights.