OPEN CONTAINER/PUBLIC CONSUMPTION
Every city and municipality has their own set of ordinances, which is just a law of the county that covers local matters that may not be covered by state or federal law. In Lee County, Chapter 4 covers alcoholic beverages. The ordinance prohibits any person from drinking or consuming alcoholic beverages on a semi-public parking lot, public street, sidewalk, parkway, beach or parking lot.
The penalty for someone convicted under this ordinance is as follows:
a. Fine not to exceed $500.00; or
b. Imprisonment in county jail not to exceed 60 days
Now there are some exception such as when events are held in Downtown Fort Myers which allow people to walk around with their drinks but a good rule of thumb is that unless there are vendors selling it where you are, it’s probably not ok for you to have it.
In the end, a single sip of alcohol consumed on a street, sidewalk or beach can subject an unwary citizen to a permanent criminal record, even if the accused’s conduct did not involve any type of public disturbance or public endangerment. Although a typical offense will result in a simple fine it may create a criminal record.
There are many defenses available such as challenging the legality of the search or seizure, whether the container was in fact open or even to contest the issue of consumption.