Watch Out For Sharks and Beach Drinking Rules

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Yesterday I wrote about DUI’s and sobriety checkpoints. Depending on when you read this, you might need a sobriety check. Today many of us will be celebrating our independence from Britain. Many will also be utilizing the 21st amendment in that celebration and in many more summer activities. While our forefathers enjoyed their ales, spirits and wines, they did not include any laws or constitutional provisions to give people the right to keep and drink booze. Alcohol laws are the subject to state and local authority. Violation of these laws often leads to summertime blues for those who are caught.

Beaches and parties go well together in movies, TV and advertisements. In real life it is not so simple. For starters, no one can possess alcohol in Connecticut if under the age of 21 (certain exceptions notwithstanding) in any public or private location. That aside, when it comes to beach drinking, the rules depend on who owns and manages the beach. A considerable amount of shoreline in Connecticut is privately owned and accessible, either by associations or homeowners. Private owners generally decide what otherwise legal activities can be done on and in their homes and property (commercial properties and activities such as alcohol service and vending require the proper licensing). For public lands, it is up to that particular locale. State parks have regulations and rules, which might be park-specific, as determined by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Some allow alcohol in certain areas of the parks. Few if any allow it on the actual sand. This information is posted online and at the parks. Now there is no specific state statute addressing this issue but state law provides that violation of a state park rule is an infraction (not a crime).

Most public beaches are not state-owned but are locally owned and run. These “town beaches” are governed by local ordinances and park rules. It is important to check websites and follow posted signs. Some towns allow alcohol in picnic areas but not on sand. Some just don’t allow glass containers. Others do not allow it at allow. Municipal ordinances are not state laws and not usually subject to criminal prosecution. Penalties are usually civil fines. These can be researched on most towns’ and cities’ websites.

While possessing and drinking alcohol may not be prohibited from a location, drunken activity very well could amount to arrests. Breach of Peace, Disorderly Conduct, Creating a Public Disturbance, Assaults and DUI are just a few. Remember, independence requires responsibility. Don’t give the state and cities reasons to create new rules.


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