It’s Gategate! Wrought Iron Fence Doesn’t Protect Brooklyn Stoop Drinkers from Fines

Drink at your own peril. (Dusty Kurtz/Flickr)

While some New Yorkers are advocating for the right to consume oversized sodas, others are vying with authorities to crack open a cold brew in peace.

Andrew Rausa and two friends must have underestimated New York officials’ interest in regulating peoples’ drinking habits when they were given summonses for public drinking. Getting in trouble for drinking on your stoop is nothing new, but Mr. Rausa, a legal eagle, believes a humble fence gives him the right to imbibe, and he’s fighting back.

Two officers issued the summonses after witnessing Mr. Rausa and his companions drinking on their Brooklyn stoop, The New York Times reports.

“We were all kind of stunned for a second,” Mr. Rausa told The Times. “It happened over the gate. It was a very tangible physical divide–when they said the words ‘public property,’ it just didn’t make any sense.”

Mr. Rausa, who is entering his third year at Brooklyn Law School in the fall, said he used his iPhone to clarify what the New York administrative code defines as a public space. According to the code, it refers to anything “which the public or a substantial group of persons has access, including, but not limited to,” a park, sidewalk or beach.

Law background and iPhone in tow, Mr. Rausa vocalized his findings to one of the officers.

“I don’t care what the law says, you’re getting a summons,” the officer said, according to Mr. Rausa.

Instead of paying the mere $25 fines (and forever carrying a permanent mark on his record), Mr. Rausa told his friends to plead not guilty in an upcoming court proceeding, with Mr. Rausa representing himself.

“My issue,” Mr. Raussa said, “is not some yuppie, I-think-I’m-above-the-law issue. It’s the fact that I brought to the attention of the police officer that he was not in the right and he was not receptive at all.”

Sounds more like a know-it-all issue to us. It’s Gategate! Wrought Iron Fence Doesn’t Protect Brooklyn Stoop Drinkers from Fines