Ohio bill would create open container districts

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Open container laws could become more relaxed in parts of Cincinnati.

Two Ohio lawmakers want the state's biggest cities, meaning a population with more than 50,000, to have entertainment districts, or areas exempt from Ohio's law against open containers. The bill was introduced to the Senate on Thursday.

Las Vegas, Indianapolis, and Louisville already have lenient open container laws. Over-the-Rhine resident Chris Wald says he experienced this first-hand during his trip to New Orleans.

"It was a blast. There was nothing too unruly that I saw. It was a heavy police presence obviously but everyone was respecting the rules," said Wald.

The number of open container districts allowed for each Ohio city is based on population. Cincinnati would be eligible for at least two. The top candidates locally would likely be Over-the-Rhine and The Banks.

"Anything downtown that brings people from outside the city, into the city, we're really happy about," said Samuel Dobrozsi, Crave restaurant manager.

Wald says OTR is perfect for this because it's a redevelopment area.

"It's more about bringing the business back to the area, especially with the casino going in and more restaurants that are trying to start up down there," said Wald.

No one would be allowed to enter the entertainment district with an alcoholic beverage. In addition, drinks must be purchased from a permit-holding vendor.

"When you're out with your friends, and you're trying to get around to a few places then when you're ready to leave somewhere you don't have to wait an extra 15 minutes for everyone to finish their drinks," added local resident Joshua Kellam.

The bill limits the size of a particular district to a 0.5 square. Paul Goebel and Samuel Dobrozsi both work at restaurants in The Banks and say they love the concept.

"As a business owner, I would like to learn a little bit more about the liability part. The security part of it," said Goebel.

"It will probably take a little bit of extra effort for the police and fire departments, but we'd be happy to give them a free meal when they want one," said Dobrozsi.

FOX19 reached out to the Cincinnati Police Department to get their take on how this bill could impact their enforcement, however, they said it was too early to comment.

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