San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New liquor law bans drinking in the streets

Costa Rica’s new liquor law implements an open container ban putting an end to drinking in the streets. The law, which went into affect last Wednesday, calls for a ₡180,000 fine ($360) for drinking alcohol in public.

The Regulation and Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Law does allow public drinking at sanctioned activities such as civic festivals, fairs and other public events.

The legislation also affects the way alcohol is licensed and sold in the country, according to the daily La Nación.

President Laura Chinchilla signed the bill into law on June 25, and it became official after it was published on Aug. 8 in the government newspaper La Gaceta.

Sanctions also include a ₡5.4 million ($10,800) fine for businesses caught selling liquor to minors.

Another major change in the law gives more power to municipalities to issue and benefit from liquor licenses. Before the law, a limited number of liquor licenses could be sold from one entity to another. The government believed this system led to a type of black market for liquor licenses, and the new law prohibits transferring licenses.

Instead, municipalities will decide who is awarded a permit to sell liquor.

San José Mayor Johnny Araya told La Nación that, “The rule allows for more flexibility with the municipalities. They will be able to regulate revenue and control liquor licenses. Instructions already have been issued to inspectors and the municipal police so that they can enforce the law.”

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