Is it legal to have a single unopened beer in your possession in a public place if you are over the age of 19?

I was downtown in Victoria for Canada Day on July 1st, 2011 (duh). I had to ask an officer regarding the whereabouts of my brother (who is 17) as he was arrested earlier in the night for being drunk in public and I had to bail him out. When I approached the officer, I had a single closed beer can in my pocket. I asked him where I would go to bail out someone out someone that had been arrested earlier and instead of answering my question, he quickly laughed at me and said to his fellow officer "Ha, look at this guy, he has a beer right in his pocket." He then proceeded to write me up a ticket for "Opened Alcohol". I told him I was over 19, which is the legal drinking age, and he said it didn't matter. I had to dump out the beer (not that I cared, I was more concerned about where my brother was) and hand over my ID. I complied, but I also told him that I will challenge the ticket, but he can do whatever it is that he has to do. <p>Basically, I'm wondering if I was actually doing anything illegal. The exact wording of what is on my ticket is "Open Liqour" under the 'Description of Offenses' section, "LCA" under the 'Act / Regs' section, and "40(1)" under the 'Section' section. I wasn't in a vehicle, I was just a pedestrian, I was over the age of 19 when the ticket was issued, the beer was unopened (albeit not in the case of twelve which it came in), and I was not intoxicated at the time. Also, I'm not sure if it matters, but I never actually signed the ticket. He simply wrote "served" where it states that I have to sign to indicate that I have received the ticket. Does anyone know if I'm free in the clear?</p>

Asked almost 9 years ago in Victoria, British Columbia
Categories: Civil Litigation

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L. John Alexander

Answer by L. John Alexander

VerifiedBritish Columbia lawyer

The words in section 40 of the Liquor Control and Licencing Act refers to an "open container".
It may be worthwhile disputing the ticket (you have a very short time period to do so), and argue that the container was not open.  I am sure the issue will be whether the container is the case, or the can.

Posted almost 9 years ago

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