Manhattan just quietly decriminalized drinking in public -- and here's why it doesn't matter

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Manhattan Quietly Decriminalizes Drinking in Public

Drinking outside is just like Raymond - EVERYBODY loves it.

There's something truly magical about having the daylight hit your face as you knock back glass after glass of boxed wine that the dark interior of a dive bar simply cannot offer.

So it seems like it should be the best news ever for New Yorkers that Manhattan just decriminalized drinking in public.

Though the announcement was done as quietly as a person trying to slip out of a movie to use the bathroom, obviously the news still got out almost immediately because this isn't the Stone Age.

So why aren't New Yorkers funneling in the parks and taking shots in the streets after hearing about this?

Apparently, the word "decriminalized" isn't exactly as glamorous as it seems.

Remember back in 2014 when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decriminalized marijuana possession?

That didn't make it okay to walk around on the streets smoking joints, now did it?

The move only changed the way police officers were meant to approach people with small amounts of marijuana -- it did not, in any way, affect the state's marijuana laws.

After the law change, if an individual was using marijuana in public or did not have proper identification while carrying marijuana, an officer could still proceed with an arrest.

In light of that, here's what the decriminalization of alcohol actually means for you: Starting Monday, March 7, 2016, the NYPD will no longer arrest individuals who drink in public, litter or take up two seats on the subway –- unless there is reason to do so, like if public safety is in jeopardy.

To be clear, it's still against the law to drink in public under the new policy, but now, you might get hit with a summons and a hefty fine instead of ending up in cuffs -- unless the police deem drunken you a threat to public safety, in which case, you'll just get straight up arrested.

So why even bother changing the law, then?

Glad you asked! This new change in policy serves two very important functions.

For one, it's meant to protect New York City residents who commit low level offenses from receiving a criminal record.

And second, it's meant to prevent law enforcement officials from wasting their precious time and resources on processing these minor violations.

Which makes perfect sense, as this will hopefully give the NYPD more time to go after more concerning crimes than you and your wine and cheese picnic in Central Park.

Like all the subway slashings happening lately, maybe.

So don't ditch those brown paper bags just yet, NYC. You may have won the battle, but the war rages on.

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