Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Beach, booze. Not so fast

In the Hampton Roads area, many localities do not allow you to drink on the beach (WYDaily Photo/ Courtesy of Pixabay)
In the Hampton Roads area, many localities do not allow you to drink on the beach (WYDaily/Courtesy of Pixabay)

Memorial Day is associated with remembering military service members who died in action, parades, family cook-outs, beach days and of course, alcohol.

In Hampton Roads, localities like Williamsburg, York County, James City County, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach have beachfronts, public water access and parks where people can frequent for the holidays. However, not all of those areas allow visitors to drink on the beach.

In Williamsburg, York County and James City County, each city ordinances does not allow people to drink publicly unless there is a special use permit obtained by the city to serve alcohol.

“With these special events, there is a defined area where alcohol may be consumed; and these events typically require the event holder to hire off duty police officers to make sure the event plans are followed and enforce any violations,” Charles Ericsson, spokesman for the Williamsburg Police Department, wrote in an email.

The localities prohibit open containers and people who violate the rules can receive anything from a warning to a class 4 misdemeanor with a fine.

In Virginia, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol, but there are some exceptions to the rule.

Capt. Dennis Ivey, spokesman for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, said those who violate the law are given a “common sense warning,” meaning either get rid of the alcohol, if it is an open container, or put it in the trunk of your car.

How about the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach? Norfolk?

“You can’t drink in public here at all,” said Linda Kuehn, master police officer and spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach Police Department.

The city has a no open container policy, despite being a tourist destination, and depending on the circumstances, people who don’t comply can get a class 4 misdemeanor, or up to a $250 fine, Kuehn said.

Norfolk and Newport News have a similar code, which means drinking at Ocean View or Huntington Beach is off limits.

“As far as alcohol on Virginia public parks, state law permits alcohol use only in private areas, inside a cabin or camping unit, or in areas designated on permits issued by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control,” Brandon Maynard, spokesman for the Newport News Police Department, wrote in an email.

It’s unclear what the rules are in Hampton and how the regulations are enforced. The city’s code doesn’t allow people to drink alcohol.

WYDaily reached out to the police department multiple times for comment but a representative was not immediately available.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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