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Drinking on the go: how to avoid tickets

by Archives September 23, 2008

Oh, the dilemmas we face as students. . .
It’s the weekend and you’re getting ready to head to the bar. You’re running late, but you still have a beer to finish. What you do? Do you chug the beer? Maybe. Leave it behind? Hell no. Maybe you could bring the malty beverage along for a walk. There’s nothing wrong with a little road soda, right?
In reality, Montreal bylaws prohibit the consumption of alcohol on streets, in parks or on any other public space. If police catch you at it, they’re likely to reward you with a $100 ticket.
Walking through a city park or taking in the sights on Mont-Royal on a Sunday afternoon, an uninformed Montrealer might assume that the city’s drinking-in-public rules are pretty lax – but few people realize how serious the issue is taken by the police. And fewer still know how to get around these puritanical laws.
NDG residents Maude Gagnon and Maxime Legacé were sitting on a bench at Girouard Park splitting a six-pack of Moosehead recently.
When asked if they knew that what they were doing was against a municipal bylaw, Legacé pointed to his bag of Cheezies and said, “No. I think that if you have food with your beers you’re not breaking the law,” he said.
Gagnon agreed with him. “I heard that, too. Like, at the Tam Tams you have your beer and the police don’t stop you because you have some food with you,” she said.
They were both surprised to find out they were misinformed. Police officer Louise Hache summed it up for those of us who aren’t clear. “Private property is okay. A bar’s terrace is okay. A glass of wine or a beer on a city picnic table with a meal is okay. Anywhere else — sitting on the grass or the sidewalk, is not okay.”
Areas that are otherwise off-limits can be licensed for special events. Just make sure you know the boundaries so that you don’t get caught off guard. The fact that the drinking-in-public law is a municipal one has some benefits though. “Because the regulation is a municipal bylaw and not a criminal offence, the officer has to see someone drink from the bottle,” Hache said.
“So if the bottle is opened and a person does not drink,” she continued, “it is not illegal to have it in hand while walking down the street.” But as soon as that bottle touches your lips it becomes illegal and you get your ticket.

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