You Can Now Drink on the Streets of Manhattan Without Fearing Arrest

The New York City island has decriminalised drinking alcohol in public.
Jasmine Crittenden
Published on March 03, 2016

We hate to break it to you Australia, but there’s yet another reason to lament the current dominance of the fun police. As of March 7, drinking in the street in New York City's Manhattan will no longer be a criminal act. Start spreading the news.

Yep, whether you’re lazing about in Central Park, strolling through Harlem or reliving the '60s in Greenwich Village — that is, anywhere on the island of Manhattan — you can crack open a cold one and enjoy it at your leisure, without fearing arrest or a criminal record.

That said, drinking’s been decriminalised, not legalised — and only in the borough of Manhattan. In practice, decriminalisation usually means you can expect the police to turn a blind eye to minor offences, and to give warnings rather than make arrests. Strictly speaking, you could still cop a fine and/or summons. So, if you’re contemplating kicking back with a glass of champagne or two on a SoHo stoop, don’t go making any trouble.

The idea behind the policy change is to redirect New York City’s resources towards weightier and more dangerous matters. "Using summonses instead of arrests for low-level offenses is an intuitive and modern solution that will help make sure resources are focused on our main priority: addressing threats to public safety,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a media statement. “Today’s reforms allow our hardworking police officers to concentrate their efforts on the narrow group of individuals driving violent crime in New York City. This plan will also help safely prevent unnecessary gaol time for low-level offenses.”

If this news has you booking a one-way flight to NYC, you might be interested to know that drinking’s not the only pastime to have been decriminalised. Others include littering, riding between subway cars, taking up more than one subway seat and — wait for it — urinating in public.

Via The Observer. Image: Ben Duchac.

Published on March 03, 2016 by Jasmine Crittenden
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