Starting July, amendments to the law enforcement law come into force in Estonia that allow people to consume alcohol in public places, but only if other people are not disturbed; the Justice Ministry said the changes are designed to reduce the amount of prohibitions and commands, and to shift more responsibility to the citizens themselves, reports Public Broadcasting.
Justice Ministry Public Law Service Adviser Sander Pollumae explained on national television that the law no longer contains the general and absolute ban on consuming alcohol anywhere.
"In the law, it is rather related to the overall ban on disturbances - no person can with their behavior endanger or disturb someone else. The use of alcohol is also looked at in this context," he said. Therefore, everyone must sense himself whether his actions disturb others or not. Also, it gives law enforcement representatives the chance of using more flexible methods, said Pollumae.
Critics believe such flexibility is not good, however, and the change is premature. "The police will be deprived of a lever with which to prevent public order violations," says Healthy Estonia CEO Hannes Lents. "The majority of public order offenses start just from people relaxing somewhere at a lawn and consuming alcohol."
Sander Pollumae says critics are talking about mostly these violations, which go under the general prohibition of disturbance. "When a person is drunk, disturbs someone, reeks of the odor of vodka, it is clear that such behavior is not acceptable," he explained.
Alcohol consumption in public places has still some restrictions. For example, alcohol cannot be drunk in public transport or in a public transport stop, near childcare institutions, youth camps or hospitals. Local governments can prohibit the consumption of alcohol.