Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Another Prospect Park Wine Bust?

July 8th, 2008 · 32 Comments

Yesterday, we posted a Park Slope Parents email from someone that was part of a group in Prospect Park that had gotten a ticket for having an open bottle of wine. There’s a post on Brooklynian from someone with the same issue, but we don’t know if it’s related to the Big Park Slope Parents Wine Bust. There is a lot more detail to this post than to the original PSP email, which sort of made the rounds. Here it is:

So, eight of us were having a very quiet picnic in Prospect Park today near the Picnic House. We had one bottle of wine with us, along with a lot of food and other beverages. A group of 4 cops (3 in those tiny cop vehicles and 1 on a segway) pulled up at the Picnic House about 30 feet away from us. After 20 minutes, the cops approached us and demanded IDs without saying why. I gave them mine, and the cop sarcastically said, “You’re an organ donor. I feel safer now.” I have no idea what his point was. He said we were being fined for having an “open container.” But then later said it was because we had glass.

The cops took all of our IDs and gave each one of us a $25 ticket regardless of whether we were drinking, and each ticket said, “Alcohol in the park.” I asked him to clarify whether the problem was having an open container or having alcohol, and he claimed he was intentionally “vague” on the ticket.

After waiting 15 minutes for the tickets, this particular cop also claimed that he wasn’t going to give us tickets until one of us started to balk, but that’s crap because they were writing up the tickets before my friend went to voice her discontent. It was clear to me that cops can lie about anything and get away with it. They were definitely jerking us around. We weren’t really thinking about having the wine with us, and I now know that having alcohol in the park is forbidden. But I felt we were particularly singled out, especially since there were numerous and obvious instances of people on either side of us who had cases of beer and another man who was walking around with a bottle in hand. The jerk cop claimed they were going to bust others, and said, “you can follow us around” but they took off and left everyone else with booze alone.

My question: has this happened to any of you? Is it worth making the court appearance for? Is this the sort of thing that goes on one’s record? And how long does that last? Has this been happening with greater frequency in Prospect Park? Is there anything a person can do about this?

We’re guessing this is related to the original email, but there’s an off-chance it’s an independent wine bust. We have to say that the organ donor comment is different.

Tags: Prospect Park

32 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mod squad // Jul 8, 2008 at 9:49 am

    you definitly have to show. If not a desk warrant will be issued which is a bigger infraction. Desk warrants aren’t normally enforced until you get stopped for something else, maybe a seatbelt or using a cellphone in a car. I got charged with trespassing on a city resivior (Westchester), I swear to God, 20 years ago, and got stopped for cellphone use in a car about 4 years ago. We never showed for the trespass ticket, thought it was stupid. I spent a night in lockup downtown NYC because the desk warrant was so old, but still active, they didn’t know what it was issued for.

  • 2 Whine Bust // Jul 8, 2008 at 10:07 am

    […] Hilarious. […]

  • 3 ell // Jul 8, 2008 at 10:40 am

    If you were black or latin, they would have arrested you. Now you know how the other half lives. Cops hassle kids all the time for stuff like this.

  • 4 stool binder // Jul 8, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Welcome to the wild side my friend! If Amadou Diallo didn’t get you nervous about the authorities then surely your Zinfandel interruptus will!

    Geez. Relax, duder.

  • 5 Eavesdropping Is What Guests Do Best… // Jul 8, 2008 at 11:31 am

    […] Don’t get caught with a wine bottle in Prospect Park [Gowanus Lounge] […]

  • 6 Ben K. // Jul 8, 2008 at 11:33 am

    he claimed he was intentionally “vague” on the ticket.

    I’m thinking you could easily get off from paying this ticket by arguing your case properly. This cop sounds like he thought he was above the law. But then again, this is just one side of the story.

  • 7 Frank // Jul 8, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Yep Don’t show and it’s a good way to spend a night or two in lock up.

  • 8 dude // Jul 8, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve gotten a ticket for open container before and the reason the cop was “intentionally vague” on the ticket was so that it would get dismissed in court.

    I got my open contained ticket thrown out because it didn’t specify what type of alcohol I was drinking.

  • 9 Mrod // Jul 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Cops bust for open container in all the parks.

  • 10 don't believe it or not // Jul 8, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    just point to your arm to note the color of your skin and clear your throat to get the cops attention. sometimes they forget they are not supposed to ticket whitey….

  • 11 Sam // Jul 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks the cops were just doing their job and being intentionally vague to be nice so these people could get out of a ticket? What does the cops attitude have to do with anything if you were actually breaking the law? GL really needs to stop these retarded whiny message board posts.

  • 12 bored at work // Jul 8, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    He was vague to give you an opportunity to get off if it was written incorrectly.

  • 13 8 1 // Jul 8, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Got busted sitting on my stoop (on my property!!) for same offense in park slope – most likely the vagueness is so you can do the following instead of having to show up in court for something else … worked for me.


    Plea by Mail Program

    Effective July 1, 2004 individuals who receive a Criminal Court Summons citing a violation of Section 10-125 (2b) of the N.Y.C. Administrative Code- “Consumption of Alcohol on Streets Prohibited” ( also known as “Open Container Violation” or “Consumption of Alcohol in Public”) are eligible to plead guilty and pay a $25 fine by mail. This program is available to persons charged with this petty offense only, and only if no other summonses are issued to the individual at the same time.

    In order to plead guilty by mail you must send the following:

    the plea form, completed and signed
    the summons you received
    check or money order for $25 made payable to NYC Criminal Court (DO NOT SEND CASH) with the summons number written on the payment
    The above items must be mailed within 10 days of the date that the summons was issued, to:
    N.Y.C. Criminal Court
    P.O. Box 555
    New York, NY 10013-0555
    If you plead guilty by mail, you do not need to appear in Court.

    To participate download and complete the form.

  • 14 C // Jul 8, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Lesson learned:

    Don’t give the cop lip when he’s giving you a BS summons and he’ll be your best friend.

    Same thing happened to me in Manhattan. They need to show activity for their bosses, and as such are instructed to do something like “write 15 c’s for the month and 20 parkers”. You were a victim of one of those C summonses. The cops have to write them, and you had alcohol in a public place. Cops generally aren’t dicks, so he let you off the hook basically. If he didn’t have to show activity/meet this stupid quota, you probably wouldn’t have ended up with a summons. But now you’ll be able to plead not guilty and get on with your lives.

  • 15 AggieAngst // Jul 8, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    “You’re an organ donor. I feel safer now.”

    That’s hysterical. Somehow I too feel safer. 🙂

  • 16 Andrea K. // Jul 8, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Wine is not allowed in the Park? That’s outrageous! The Park goes beautifully with Beaujolais!

  • 17 plainclothesman // Jul 8, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Everyone should go to Big Nose Full Body and buy their wine juice boxes. Problem solved (although they taste like crap).

  • 18 thomas // Jul 8, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I agree with Sam, for as much as I enjoy drinking and parks and combining the two, what they were doing was against the law. Whatever facets of the officer’s personality arose is irrelevant. I can’t help but be reminded when I was a teenager and I really believed my whining had merit when I did something that was unquestionably wrong. I’d complain to my parents that while I got caught cheating on a test, the bigger issue in my eyes that I thought they should focus on was how the teachers were “unfair” and “mean” for busting me in the first place.

    Props to the second poster for putting it so succinctly – “Whine Bust.”

  • 19 pete // Jul 8, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Hey this is America! Drinking in Public is Illegal. If you dont go to court you will get a bench warrant and end up jail someday.

    I received a ticket on Manhattan Beach for having a beer. The beach sold beer and everyone drinks there. I asked why I was getting a ticket and I was told because it was not in a cup. So if I had it in a cup it would not be problem.

    I drink in Prospect every weekend and I have never had problem because I keep it in a cup or a bag or something.

  • 20 CBrown // Jul 8, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    This reminds me of that recent post on Brownstoner (I think) from the guy who complained about getting a ticket for being double-parked. He admitted he was double-parked, but was mad about his “treatment” from the cop, who was going to let him off without a ticket before he started mouthing off to the cop! Geez, people, Lesson #1: You can’t fight a ticket if you actually are guilty of the offense, and Lesson #2: Mouthing off to a cop is NOT the way to get out of it!

  • 21 Juna // Jul 8, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Last year we were in the park and stayed late into the evening on a Sunday with our kids with a couple of bottles of wine, cheese, etc. I actually wasn’t even drinking, but the cops came over, gave us all tickets, although they were really nice about it, gave us pointers how not to get caught in the future, etc.

    One big point – they claimed they only really ticket people when it gets later in the evening and most other people have left.

    Interestingly without us doing anything all of our tickets were dismissed. Probably for the same reason of vagueness.

  • 22 Kevin // Jul 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    The reason your group was ticketed and not the other groups around you is that you looked “Park Slope” ie. white, non-threatening, unlikely to flee, etc. You were the low-hanging fruit to lazy cops, who, as C suggests, were just filling their quotas. The problem here is that what makes the policy of quality of life busts worthwhile is it puts everyone on notice that breaking any law is not tolerated. When cops single out non-threatening folks for summonses because it makes their job easy it undermines the effectiveness of QOL busts.

  • 23 Silverfish // Jul 8, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    So let me get this straight, the complaint is effectively that a “socially correct” crowd, drinking a “socially correct” beverage (wine) was unfairly ticketed by the police while other groups who were not drinking a “socially correct” beverage (beer) in the park were not ticketed, while both beverages are equally prohibited. Who do you think you are? Do you have a special entitlement to drink wine in the park? If you think you benefit generally from QOL crime policy you need to put our money where your mouth is. Frankly, the cops were probably doing their job by applying the law equally and ticketing you – imagine the other side of this debate: “They never ticket those yuppies drinking wine in the Park while we get ____ all the time”. Bottom line is you cannot claim that you didnt know it was illegal to drink in the park, you just need to take your lumps, stop comlaining and figure out how not to get caught next time.

  • 24 Noisejoke // Jul 9, 2008 at 2:10 am

    What ever happened to brown baggin’ it? Used to work, along with pin joints, around the block from CB’s.

  • 25 Bill // Jul 9, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Sounds like another example of whining, self-centered Park Slope yuppies demanding special treatment. Wake-up people, it’s been illegal to drink in city parks for a very, very long time. Cut the police some slack as they have to deal with a-holes all day long.

  • 26 lou // Jul 9, 2008 at 8:59 am

    NewsFlash!!!, Cops with nothing to do are Jerks.

    Why can’t they go back to harassing kids who do nothing wrong instead of law breaking adults? The outrage! They should call their lawyer, or their husbands who are probably lawyers.

    We should be able to drink Alcohol in the park. There should be a beer keg installed at 2nd Base of every ball field. And pretty soon we could turn the park into Long Island! If I see a single mullet I am blaming it on the beer.

    It’s all sarcasm from me this morning.

  • 27 combustiblegirl // Jul 9, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Bottom line is, you broke the law.

  • 28 Janet // Jul 9, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    First of all, NYC cops are JERKS and LIARS. Second of all, wine is sold by the concert shell and although it is not in an “open” container, it is still public drinking in the park. The cops should have informed you of the law and given you a warning for being first time offenders instead of making snarky remarks about your being an organ donor.

  • 29 sweatervestcentral // Jul 9, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    why are we assuming this guy is white?

  • 30 Justin // Jul 9, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    DON’T BREAK THE LAW!!!!! Please review this video if this is not clear to you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj0mtxXEGE8

  • 31 Alan // Jul 12, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    This is a timely thread considering a received a pink summons for a 10-125 2b open container violation yesterday at Coney Island. I was one of many people in the vicinity drinking bottled beer on the beach but luck wasn’t on my side and I got a ticket. Obviously, I should’ve been more careful.

    I read about the Plea by Mail Program here http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/nyc/criminal/specialprojects.shtml
    but the cops told me I had to pay in person prior to my court date in Sept or show up for court as specified for the judge to rule on the violation. Was wondering if anyone else has paid by mail and if it worked out alright.

    The cop wrote “open container” on my summons but nothing else in the description so I wonder if that would be vague enough for the judge to dismiss… Either way I’d prefer not to waste 3+ hrs sitting in those lines to pay a $25 fine.

  • 32 john // Jul 13, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    hey i just got one of these to, and it says “open alcohol in public” – do you think it will get dismissed in court if i go? I rather not have a record at all.. Maybe I could argue that is was a low-alcoholic beer (under .5 %) ? 🙂