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Got a open intox ticket with beer in brown bag

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? mi

Hello after riding my bike for several miles i stop at the store and bought a 40 ounce beer. I cracked it open after leaving the store, leaving it in a brown bag, took a few drinks right after that a bike cop stop and asked what i was drinking, I told him that i didnt remember what i had bought. He asked to search my bag i declined. He seemed to get pretty upset after that, he then took the beer outta the bag and wrote me a ticket for open intox. I asked him how could he have known what it was before taking it outta the bag, he said he could smell it on me. Should this be easy to fight by myself or should i get a lawyer. I have prior alcohol offences and i dont want another on my record or the costs of probation etc. thanks

Edit: also i had him put on ticket in remarks " beer in brown bag " which he did.
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Senior Member
I'd be willing to bet that, if you fight it, there will be testimony from the officer that his "training and experience" helped him form the opinion that a person with a brown bag around an object of that size was concealing an open container. Heck, even though I'm not a cop, *I* can form that opinion and be right most of the time. This is probably enough to give a reasonable suspicion to seize you and perform a reasonable investigation. Then, when he combines it with the fact he smelled the odor of alcohol on you, would probably give some probable cause for arrest. Even if it were not *true*, it would be your word against his. And, there was the fact he was right. The arrest was correct and I'm not seeing a defense. (The best part will be when he tells the court you "forgot" what you purchased a moment before.)

Get a lawyer if you want/need to fight it. He will have to review each part in detail against case law for you to have any chance to win. It seems like a slam dunk for the state. Maybe the state will deal if you show you will fight this thing with a professional as it does seem to have a little "contempt of cop" involved, but I wouldn't bet on it. There is no way they will deal with just you.
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Senior Member
A 40 oz. beer is a very distinctive thing ... no soda or ice tea bottle is likely to appear the same. When I worked in Southern Cal. the drunks used to do that all the time - and they got popped all the time.

In your case, between your prior history of alcohol arrests, the smell of alcohol on you, the distinctive look of the bottle, the claim of not remembering what you bought, and the officer's training and experience (to include the fact that NO ONE drinks Pepsi or ice tea from a brown paper bag), you will lose.

I would suggest you pay the fine and save the cost of an attorney.

- Carl


Junior Member

I'm no lawyer but I don't think you have much of a case, because in the end the cop was right, if just by pure luck. (That's how they get most of their convictions). Save the time and money of hiring an attorney and just pay the fine.


Junior Member
Nobody I know drinks Mountain Dew out of a brown paper bag. That's the oldest drunk sight gag in the book. Foster Brooks drank his "booze" out of a brown paper bag, and he's what? 135? That's how long everyone has known that any drink in a brown paper bag (ESPECIALLY a 40) is booze. Period.

Look, I'm HUGE on personal responsility. HUGE, I tell you. You did it, you got pinched for it...stand up like a man and take what you deserve.

If you don't want another alcohol offense on your record? Stop drinking booze out of a brown paper bag in public.

PS - Guessing you were on your bike because you had your liscense pulled, huh? Kind of a slow learner, aren't ya?


Senior Member

You're lucky you didn't get DUI rather than open intox. Had the cop waited until you rode off into the sunset, you would have faced that more harsh charge. And yes, there have been successful prosecutions of DUI for bike riding.


Senior Member
CdwJava said:
to include the fact that NO ONE drinks Pepsi or ice tea from a brown paper bag
Lets keep it to the obvious shape of bottle and the odor.

A paper bag, esp if slightly moistened is a good way to keep drinks cool and shaded from the sun on hot sunny day.

This works just as well for soda as for for beer (or any carbonated or non-carbonated drink)...

I am not trying to defend this guy.

But buy the same token, I am not going to flip out if an office asks what's in my bag when sippin on a 24oz Ice Tea that looks just like a Molson TallBoy.

But then again too, the notion of using a bag to keep a drink cold while enjoying it is apparently not so alien in the many places I have lived that I have never been questioned, despite obviously being seen by the police 'sippin from the bag'

Last word: All that said, then again I am not a bike riding, blatant alcoholic with a long rap sheet and a no doubt a reputation in the community.


Senior Member
Well, in my 15 years of law enforcement I've only once come across a non-alcoholic beverage in a paper bag. And, in that case, the transient was playing with us - he bought a soda can and was standing on the curb making a show of drinking it in a brown paper bag when we drove by. We finally contacted him and he laughed showing us what he was drinking.

In this case, if you combine the serious unlikelihood of the bottle in the bag, the shape, the odor, and the history, it's good cause.

- Carl

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