Ain't No Laws When You're Drinking Claws?

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White Claw Hard Seltzer with Gavel

Recently the Portland police of Maine pushed back against the trending slogan for the popular hard seltzer White Claw tweeting: “To clear the air: here in Portland, laws still apply even when you’re drinking claws. Or drinking anything else. RT to keep your ‘bros’ out of trouble.”  With the legal loophole now effectively closed, you may be wondering what laws you might be guilty of when drinking claws in Maine. 

A great way to navigate the statutes of any jurisdiction is to take advantage of an index.  On Westlaw, you can navigate to the Maine Statutes & Court Rules page and on the right hand side, under Tools & Resources, you can click on Maine Statutes Index.  The subject level language of the index will deliver results from the statutes tied directly to the concept you’re interested in.  The trick of navigating it is in locating the right language for your subject matter.  For instance, you won’t find any results under drunkenness, but you will if you look for the term intoxicated. 

But just because you’ve found a result doesn’t mean that you’re done searching.  Clicking on the result for intoxicated leads you to a section of the statutes dealing with law enforcement agency reporting responsibilities.  There is no actual crime mentioned here.  When it comes to statutes, you should always be in the habit of looking at surrounding sections and understanding the overall structure of how things are arranged.  In this case, if we look to the definitions section of the chapter, we see that public drinking is a class E crime.  A class E crime is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  Now that’s a lot of potentially lost White Claws.  So always remember to think before you drink and do your research*! 

*Please research responsibly, reference librarians are available at the front desk to help with any of your research needs. 

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Adam Mackie
Reference Librarian,UConn Law

Adam provides reference and research assistance to library patrons, presents formal and informal research instruction in law school courses, and develops research materials in a variety of formats.  Prior to the library, Adam worked as a legislative attorney at the Hawaii state capitol and served as a law clerk for the third circuit court located in Hilo.  He received his J.D. and M.L.I.Sc. from the University of Hawaii and earned an LL.M. in International Business and Economic Law from Kyushu University in Japan.