Open Container Law Doesn’t Stop Americans From Drinking on the Fourth of July (Just Conceal It)
It seems as natural as having an outdoor BBQ and dressing in the red, white and blue.
As American as baseball, and apple pie, yet it’s illegal.
Drinking beer – or any alcoholic beverage – in public. And it’s enforced in the Los Angeles beach town of Hermosa Beach, which is one of the top 4th of July party places in the USA. The cops patrol The Strand and even have a “command center” set up on 2nd Street.
People in places like Australia, Brazil and Europe would faint at this – and actually they did in the latter, when I told people during a recent trip to Switzerland – but there’s something in America called an “open container law.”
That means it is a crime to walk out onto a street, beach or any public area with an open can or bottle of alcohol. Even pouring it into a plastic cup is illegal.
Do it, and you risk being fined or even arrested. Even on the Fourth of July!
In fact, it’s worse on the 4th.
In Hermosa Beach, CA, fines are tripled to $300. Tripled!
The lone exception in this Los Angeles beach city is for the Ironman, a unique start to the 4th in this fun-loving beach town in which the final element is that competitors must drink a 6-pack of beer, when the no-drinking-on-the-beach law is waved for a few hours in the morning.
Now us Americans are nothing if not creative. We have ways of getting around silly laws. Which begs the question, why have them in the first place if people can get around them? Well, it’s all posturing to give the appearance of enforcement, and in this country, it’s not always what you do that counts, but what it is you say you will do. At least when it comes to politics and public policy.
That’s why you will see Americans at parades, the beach and yes, even in Hermosa, carry around colored containers. They contain not a sports drink, but beer or alcohol. The cops know it and they leave the well-behaved responsible people alone, focusing instead on where they should be focusing: Potential troublemakers.
If you hold up a red, white and blue can of beer in the face of a cop, you’re going to get busted. Otherwise, the red, white and blue of Independence Day shares space with multi-colored plastic cups.