Wink may be doing a follow-up story on the open container cases, which we discussed here a few weeks ago. I represented a couple of the bartenders who were cited when undercover officers walked off premises with open containers. As I explained in the earlier post, the city is trying to impose a duty on bartenders beyond their legal requirements. My clients’ charges were dropped a few days ago.
To reiterate, bartenders are not criminally responsible for customers that walk off. Walking away with an open container is an independent criminal act (under Fort Myers city ordinance). You can’t charge the clerk at Williams Sonoma if I buy a knife there and go stab somebody. Likewise, you can’t charge bartenders for other people walking off. Patrons, be aware that the city is enforcing the open container law now. Those are the people who risk citations for walking around.