Cruise Nite prompts new alcohol code

Thank you to Justin Burch for his beautiful images

Re-Posted: from a KearneyHUB story, Wednesday, January 14, 2015
By ASHLEY WHITE Hub Staff Writer

KEARNEY — A change in Kearney city code will give law enforcement one more tool to curb after-Cruise Nite activities.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Kearney City Council voted 5-0 to amend city code to make it illegal to not only consume, but also to possess an open container of alcohol in city right of way or on public property. The amendment also makes it illegal to consume or possess alcohol on a public sidewalk.

The new code amendment will apply only to open, unsealed containers of alcohol, Police Chief Dan Lynch said at the council meeting. It will not, for example, apply to someone who purchases liquor at a store and then walks it to their vehicle. People can still consume alcohol in their private yards or driveways, Lynch said.

“A person who might have purchased alcohol and is trying to get it from the street to their home, this doesn’t affect them,” he said. “In your yard, in your driveway, in your back yard, whatever property is yours to control, you’re more than welcome to imbibe if that’s what you choose to do.”

The new amendment also will not apply to restaurants that have a license to serve alcohol outside.

Lynch said that the code amendment will help law enforcement handle after-Cruise Nite activities and other large events.

“As a response to (those events), you enacted a consumption ordinance, which has helped in some ways, but it’s still limiting,” Lynch said. “It still requires the officers to observe someone actually consuming something that’s found to be an alcoholic beverage. This, we feel, would give us tools to deal with things before they get out of hand. We have no intention of using this for any other reason than to try to address those issues that are given to us at these gatherings.”

Last year, the Kearney Police Department reported 145 arrests and citations during the Cruise Nite weekend, including 45 minor-in-possession offenses.

Violation of the new code amendment will be a misdemeanor. The change was effective Jan. 28, 2015.