Last week, the governor of Ohio signed a bill that allows large cities to create open-container districts, otherwise known as outdoor drinking zones. That means bar and restaurant patrons in the area will be able to buy alcoholic beverages and then leave the establishments in order to drink in public.

According to reports, the new law permits cities in Ohio with more than 35,000 people to create one “drinking zone” and cities with more than 50,000 people — such as Columbus — to create two. 

The cities won’t be able to create the zones just anywhere; they will need to be in spaces that include at least four alcohol permit holders and they cannot be more than a half-mile square. The law will take effect immediately.

However, before underage drinkers get excited about an opportunity to drink in the streets with a red Solo cup in hand, they need to remember that police will be on hand checking IDs, much like on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Additionally, the law does not allow drinks to be carried into the drinking districts from outside.

It’s important to remember that even a seemingly minor charge like an underage drinking violation can have serious consequences that can affect your life for years to come.

Not only can an underage drinking violation lead to fines and a criminal record, it can cause you to lose your financial aid or scholarship money for school. It can also get you kicked off of your athletic team or even kicked out of college.

For all of these reasons, it’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are ever charged with a crime — even a minor one — so that your rights, interests and future can be protected.