We have all seen and heard the public service announcements warning of the consequences of drinking and driving but did you know that Chicago, as well as many surrounding communities, have open container and public intoxication ordinances that may affect you even if you are not in your vehicle?

In Chicago, you can be cited for violations of the open container law if you are drinking on a public sidewalk, on the front steps of your apartment building or in a parking lot. This is why venues, such as the Old Town School of Folk Music, warn patrons not to carry liquor out of the building (and 15feet from any doorway) when they go outside for a cigarette. Recently neighbors of the Congress Theater have publicly called for increased police enforcement of this ordinance in order to control the actions of the patrons attending music events at the theater.

In addition, Chicago ordinance 9.20.020 states that it is unlawful for any person to be in an intoxicated condition on or in any street, alley or other public place in the city. If you are cited for public intoxication you can be fined fifty dollars ($50.00) for the first offense and one hundred dollars ($100.00) for every subsequent offense. This is the ordinance that police often use as a threat to patrons around sports venues such as Wrigley or Cellular Field.

Luckily these offenses are handled administratively, i.e. a ticket is issued, rather than requiring a court appearance.