A new city ordinance limiting open containers in the West 7th Street area could be a solution to a rising crime rate in the vicinity as bars have come to characterize the neighborhood. 

At least, that’s what city staff and police hope to see. 

“We are actively working to make West 7th Street safe and vibrant,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Beck. “It’s a response to the feedback we’ve heard.”

No state or local law prohibits open containers in public areas. This could be Fort Worth’s first designated area with such an ordinance. 

Fort Worth does have a rule prohibiting the possession of an open container or the consumption of alcohol within 1,000 feet of any homeless shelter or substance abuse treatment center outside the central business district. 

There is no timeline yet as to when this ordinance would be formally proposed or adopted. Boundaries also need to be defined, Beck said. 

Beck said this type of ordinance is common in other cities and could become a useful tool to keep business owners and residents in West 7th safe. 

In an email to the Fort Worth Report, Commander Buck Wheeler, who oversees the West Division of the Fort Worth Police Department, said adopting such an ordinance would “provide another enforcement option for our officers that could help address and deter alcohol-related incidents, such as underage drinking and public intoxication.”

The council would have to approve a ban on open containers if it moved forward. 

Where can’t you consume alcohol in Texas?

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code doesn’t prohibit open containers in public areas unless a city passes its own local ordinance. However, there are a few exceptions:

  1. No open containers in public places in state parks
  2. No open containers in most convenience store parking lots
  3. No open containers in vehicles 
  4. You can’t consume alcohol in public places on Sunday between 1:15 a.m. and noon and Monday through Saturday between 12:15 a.m. and 7 a.m.
  5. You can’t consume alcohol in public places permitted to sell alcohol on Sunday between 2:15 a.m. and noon, as well as Monday through Saturday from 2:15 a.m. to 7 a.m.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code allows municipalities to prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in a central business district if it poses a health and safety risk to its residents. 

The code defines a central business district as a compact geographical area where at least 90% of the land is used or zoned for commercial purposes. It also states that restrictions must be placed on well-defined geographical boundaries. 

Several Texas cities have adopted open container bans in their central business district. Houston successfully did it in 1994. Dallas also has a ban on open containers for some parts of the city. 

Most recently, Austin reversed its decades-long ban against public consumption of alcohol in some parts of the city. The prohibition was initially enacted to “decrease alcohol-related crime, violence, and vagrancy.” 

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter at @ssadek19. 

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Sandra SadekBusiness Reporter

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Houston, she graduated from Texas State University where she studied journalism and international...