What do you do when issued an open intoxicants ticket in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Football Saturday?

If you are going to a Michigan Wolverines game in Ann Arbor, then chances are that you will have a drink or be around people who are drinking.  It is also very easy to get arrested in Ann Arbor for having open intoxicants in public.  The rules are that you can’t be on public property with an open container.  An open container is any alcoholic beverage that has the seal broken so if you have a bottle of liquor and you opened it, then screwed the cap back on, that is enough to get charged with the crime.

Does a brown bag work to hide alcohol on game day?

In most cases, No.  The reason is that everyone knows what is in the brown bag.  In fact, if you have a brown bag, the police may be able to look inside it to see if it is alcohol because using a brown bag is so common.  Its not a defense in many cases if the police have probable cause that a crime is being committed.

What about a solo cup?

Solo cups are even more obvious.  The police know that, most likely, there is alcohol in the cup.  They will check and then issue you a misdemeanor.  It is very difficult to explain that there is no alcohol in a solo cup even when there isn’t.  If you really didn’t have intoxicants in the cup, then you may have a defense, but even then its very difficult to defend.  Fortunately, I’ve been successful in defending these cases.

So what happens if you get charged?

If you get charged, then its a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 90 days in jail.  The good news is that very few people go to jail on this type of case in Ann Arbor.  The even better news is that many times I am able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a civil infraction.  Unfortunately, the possible result is not always that easy.  It will depend on who is charging the crime; is it Ann Arbor, or State of Michigan?  That will make a very big difference.

What if you live out-of-town?

If you live in another town or state, I can still help you.  Many times I can appear on your behalf without you ever stepping into the courtroom.  I have helped clients without them having to appear many times.  To be clear, this is not always possible, but we can discuss this over the phone in more detail.

Can I handle this case on my own? Do I need a lawyer?

Maybe, the 15th District Court has a First Offender Docket.  If this is a first offense of any kind you may qualify for a first offender program.  Some people go to court and handle this on their own.  Others feel that they need a lawyer.  These cases are not complicated and don’t require any specialized experience other than being familiar with the programs, prosecutors, and judges.  Fortunately, I have a lot of experience dealing with this court and am in the 15th District Court weekly.  Sometimes I’m there 3 or 4 times a week in the fall.  I’ve also helped hundreds of people with this specific criminal charge.  You might not need a lawyer.  I say this because there are attorneys out there who use high pressure sales techniques to get you to hire them.  You should think about whether you want to hire a lawyer who scares you into hiring them.  Some people will say anything for you to hire them including speaking negatively about other lawyers.  I will never misrepresent the situation, but will tell you the way it is.  If you want to hire me, I’ll give you the best defense I can.  If you want to hire someone else or handle this on your own, that is okay too.  I’m still happy to talk to you.

What are some good reasons to hire a lawyer like me?

  •             You had prior interaction with the police, criminal cases, or convictions
  •             Your ticket has more than one charge
  •             You believe you have a defense
  •             You are too nervous to handle this on your own
  •             You live out-of-town, in a different state, or don’t want to come back to Ann Arbor
  •             You want an attorney to review your case and help guide you through the process to make sure that you get the best possible outcome
  •             You just want to make sure that this case is resolved with as little impact on you as possible

I spoke with another lawyer and they said that I have to hire an attorney right away, is this true?

Courts are closed on nights and weekends.  If you are speaking to someone during those times and they tell you that you have to hire them right away, I would be skeptical.   If your court date is the next day, then that is a different situation.

I think its important to consult with an attorney whenever you are charged criminally.  This crime is one that many people can handle on their own.

What if I am a current Student at the University of Michigan?

Contact the University of Michigan – Student Legal Services.  That office employs five attorneys who work on these cases on a regular basis.  Currently enrolled students at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus are represented by experienced attorneys at no cost to the student.  The student only pays whatever the court tells them to pay.  SLS lawyers are in the courts on a weekly basis.  Sometimes they are in the 15th District Court 3-4 times a week each, especially in the fall.  They consult or represent thousands of students every year.  That office is very involved in the Washtenaw County Bar Association, and is often times involved when the court decides to make new programs.  SLS lawyers often times get the same or better results than private attorneys.  Especially if those attorneys aren’t in the court on a regular basis to understand what programs the court has to offer.  I share this information because even though I might lose some business, the public and client is better served when not having to spend close to $2,000 on cases that can be resolved for free or on one’s own.

How do I contact you?

If you were arrested or charged with having alcohol out in public, on public property, or on the street while at a football game in Ann Arbor, Michigan, then call me for a free consultation at (734) 887-6079.  I am experienced criminal defense attorney that works in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Dexter, Milan, Chelsea, Romulus, among other cities in Michigan.  I will help you understand the situation, process, and your options.

Additional Resources:

Here are that actual Ann Arbor City Codes on Open Intox in Ann Arbor:

9:80. – Possession on public street.

Except in those areas where consumption of alcoholic liquor is permitted by this chapter, no person shall possess alcoholic liquor in an open, uncapped, or unsealed container on a public street.

(Ord. No. 09-18, § 1, 5-18-09)


9:75. – Consumption in public.

No person shall consume alcoholic liquor on the public streets, in a public parking lot, in a public parking structure or in the portion of any business premises open to the public if that business is not licensed to sell alcoholic liquor for consumption on the premises. A business or organization having permission from the Liquor Control Commission for outdoor sales may, with the approval of the City Council, sell or deliver alcoholic liquor for consumption on a designated area of public streets, parking structures or parking lots, subject to such restrictions as to time, dates and location as may be imposed by the City Council. It shall not be a violation of this section for a person to consume alcoholic liquor obtained from such a business or organization if such consumption is made in the designated area.

(Ord. No. 09-18, § 1, 5-18-09)


Here is another website devoted to open Intox charges in Ann Arbor


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