The Carnival season is in full swing in New Orleans. If you are heading into town between now and Mardi Gras on Feb 28, 2017, you need to understand a few points about alcohol in the city. The last thing you need is to come to New Orleans for fun and end up in jail or facing criminal charges.
While many states have strict open container laws, Louisiana isn’t one of those states. In New Orleans, revelers can drink alcohol in public but the beverage must be in a plastic cup. This means you can’t grab a bottle of beer and walk around with the bottle. Instead, you have to pour it into a cup. Merchants in the area know this, but it is good to remember for when you are heading out of the hotel to join in the festivities. You also must remember that drinking alcohol in a parking lot is against the law in New Orleans.
As long as you are 21 years old or older, you can enjoy Bourbon Street for Mardi Gras. The bar doors stay open whenever the bar is open. Lawmakers are trying to have bars close the doors at 3 a.m. but remain open in an effort to curtail crime. While it isn’t clear if this is going to become law, a quick pull or push on a closed bar door lets you know if it is open. You can purchase alcoholic beverages at any bar on Bourbon Street and then leave the bar with the drink in your hand if you want to continue enjoying the revelry.
If you are in New Orleans for Mardi Gras night, you must be ready to cut the party short at midnight. Police officers on foot and on horseback clear the streets at midnight in observance of Ash Wednesday. This also allows the city to clean up the streets after the huge party that occurred on Mardi Gras day and evening. You can take your drink with you, but you must leave the area when the sweep occurs.
Even though the open container laws are lax in New Orleans, the drunk driving laws aren’t. You should make plans to get to your hotel or other areas if you can’t walk to them. The streetcar, taxis, ride sharing, and similar methods can get you where you need to go. If you do opt to drive, there is a chance you’ll face drunk driving charges. You should be prepared to fight these charges because you can face a driver’s license suspension, incarceration and fines if you are convicted.