Once the weather warms up, prepare for a flood of wine-guzzling picnickers coming to Central Park. Starting March 7th, Manhattan police will stop arresting public boozers.
This change, which is particularly important to the hoards of St. Patrick’s Day revelers ready to descend upon the city in two weeks, is part of a policy change implemented by District Attorney Cyrus Vance to end arrests for minor offenses. By cutting New Yorkers some slack on the little no-nos, including littering, public urination and riding between subway cars, police will have more time to keep the streets safe from more serious crime. Offenders with a warrant out will still get arrested, but their minor infringement will not be added to their rap sheet. According to the DA’s Office this could lead to a staggering decrease of 10,000 annual arrests in the borough.
Of course, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend hitting the street with a beer in one hand and a roll of toilet paper in the other—these offenses can still get you issued a summons with a fine. But if the potential $25 fine for an open container or $50 penalty for public urination isn’t a deterrent, then go for it. (The city could probably use your money.) Also, it should be noted that the policy change only applies in Manhattan, so when you hit up Prospect Park on the first day of summer, keep that delightful rosé hidden in a water bottle like a responsible adult.