On Wednesday, Las Vegas City Council passed a ban on open glass or aluminum containers containing liquor on the Fremont Street Experience, a pedestrian mall downtown popular with tourists. The new ordinance puts most of the onus on store owners, particularly souvenir stores, who sell liquor. Store owners whose employees allow people to violate the law may face a $500 civil penalty.
The FSE ban is actually significantly watered down from the original proposal. The original proposal would have banned open containers in a 32-block area, and made it a misdemeanor offense with up to a $1,000 fine for a person to possess an open container.
Las Vegas remains a city with liberal laws surrounding alcohol. People may still carry open containers in most of the city and on the Vegas Strip (which is not within city limits). However, Las Vegas residents would be incorrect to think they cannot face legal trouble for certain actions that pertain to alcohol.
While Nevada does not contain a charge for public intoxication, it does have a charge called “breach of the peace.” This is similar to what other jurisdictions call “disorderly conduct.” Breach of the peace is a charge police and prosecutors may pursue if they believe a person is intoxicated and causing problems in public.
Under NRS § 203.010, a person is guilty of breach of the peach if he or she maliciously or willfully disturbs the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, person or family with loud or unusual noises, tumultuous and offensive conduct, threatening, quarreling, fighting or challenging people to fight. It is a misdemeanor, with penalties of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
The situation becomes dramatically different once an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel. It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or with a blood-alcohol content level at or above 0.08. A conviction for a first offense will result in jail time between 48 hours and six months, or 96 hours of community service, between $340 and $1,175 in fines and a 90-day suspension of driving privileges. Consequences could become harsher if the BAC is at or above 0.18 or if it is a second or subsequent offense.
A Las Vegas DUI defense lawyer can challenge the traffic stop, the DUI test, the arrest and any other matter to seek to have the charges dropped or reduced. An attorney can also help the accused maintain his or her driver’s license.
While Las Vegas may have looser laws for alcohol than most places, it is not a free-for-all on the Fremont Street Experience or anywhere else. Those in the city and surrounding area are advised to know their rights in case of a criminal accusation, including the right to an attorney.