COLUMBIA - The Columbia Board of Aldermen tonight voted to strengthen the city's ordinance pertaining to open containers of alcohol on public property.
The old ordinance only stated that it was illegal to possess beer on public property in the city limits. Other forms of alcohol, such as liquor and wine, were not included in the ordinance.
Under the old ordinance, defendants could not be prosecuted on a charge of open container for possessing liquor and wine, City Prosecutor Leigh Berry said. Open container cases involving liquor and wine can now be prosecuted under the ordinance.
To read the ordinance approved by the aldermen tonight click here: Open Container Ordinance
Berry said the loophole in the ordinance was discovered about a month ago when a defendant was charged with open container for allegedly having Crown Royal whiskey in the Wal-Mart parking lot. That case and others have been dismissed, because the ordinance did not have language pertaining to liquor and wine, said Berry.
"If we have an ordinance that deals with beer, we need one that deals with other forms of alcohol as well," Berry told the aldermen tonight.
The penalty for violating the open container law is a fine of $50 to $250 and up to 90 days in jail. It is unclear how long the ordinance had been in effect before being changed tonight.