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Open Container Law Shot Down Because It Discriminates Against The Homeless

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matcom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-10-07 10:17 AM
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Open Container Law Shot Down Because It Discriminates Against The Homeless

It's still legal to enjoy a beer in broad daylight while wetting a line from a public fishing pier, watching the sun set at Englewood Beach, or relaxing in the shade of a county park -- even if you're homeless.

Charlotte County commissioners Tuesday opted not to adopt an open container law that would have banned consuming alcohol in public places because it could be interpreted as discriminatory against homeless people.

County Attorney Janette Knowlton had been asked to review a proposed open container ordinance at the request of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

In essence, she said, adopting an open container law would do little more than open a can of worms for the county.

Knowlton said Sarasota County does not have an open container law, while Lee County has a "very restrictive" ordinance.

She said Lee County pays the state attorney's office $60,000 a year to prosecute those cited with open container violations, and probably pays an equal amount in public defenders' fees.

Knowlton said commissioners need to define how expansive they want such a law to be.
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