Cracking open the open container laws in Columbia, SC

The Vista in Columbia, SC | Photo via @ryanbailong

Picture this. Leaving a restaurant or bar on Main Street and sippin’ on an alcoholic beverage you took to-go. That is currently illegal in the capital city, but have you ever noticed that you can walk around places like New Orleans or the historic district of Savannah with a beverage in hand?

Open container laws vary from state to state, and with special ordinances, some cities allow patrons to hop from one location to another and explore all that an area has to offer with an alcoholic drink. 

This made us wonder, what if? What would it look like if the City of Columbia had a similar ordinance? 

Currently, Soda Citizens are only allowed to roam the streets with drinks in hand during special events (think St. Pat’s in Five Points) and that requires a special events permit that must be applied for here

Here is what other cities are doing: 

📍Las Vegas allows walking around the Strip with boozy beverages. 

📍Our sister city of Chattanooga has allowed for open containers since 2017 on Station Street, which coincidentally happens to be in the prime nightlife area. All drinks must be in a clearly marked plastic container + once someone leaves the area, the rule no longer applies. 

📍Virginia also has a law that allows patrons to leave a restaurant carrying an alcoholic beverage, and walk with it into another establishment (just not another restaurant) during licensed events and in designated areas

What does the law actually say about open containers in Cola? 

Having an alcoholic beverage on public property is prohibited unless one of the following exceptions is true: 

  • On a sidewalk that is covered or included in a restaurant or bar space 
  • At a public event or festival with permits in place
  • Behind designated barricades of a neighborhood block event with permits in place

So, what do you think, Cola? If we could have an open container avenue in Columbia, where would it be? 

A four-block stretch down Main Street means you could hop from Hendrix down to Market on Main. 

An ordinance in the Vista could mean the area from Blue Marlin down to the Convention Center along Lincoln Street. 

Five Points seems like a no brainer for this concept with its popular nightlife crowd. 

Do you think this something Columbia should consider? Let us know what you think of these suggestions or if you can think of a better location for this concept.  

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