Local lawmaker proposes bill to discharge first-time open container offenders

Grand Strand

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WCBD) – Senator Greg Hembree of North Myrtle Beach has proposed a bill that will have open container offenses eligible for conditional discharge.

Hembree says the bill is about legal terminology and getting local government using the same terminology as the state.

“A lot of cities they kind of use open container which you know you have an open beer and you’re walking down the street kind of thing.. they can either charge them with public disorderly conduct cause drinking in public that fits the state statue for public disorderly conduct. But many cities and counties have their own county ordinance and they call it open container,” said Hembree.

Hembree said a few years ago the State General Assembly voted for public disorderly conduct to be eligible for conditional discharge.

He says the assembly intended for open container charges to be included in that eligibility as it is the same conduct.

“Many of the cities and I think rightly so, they conservatively interpreted the conditional discharge statute not to cover open container. That sort of conduct we intended to incorporate in that option, the conditional discharge option,” said Hembree.

The bill only applies to first-time open container offenders.

The bill has been pre-filed and will have its first reading on January 14th in front of the South Carolina General Assembly.

Chairman Luke Rankin will then decide what priority to give to the bill.

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