When can you crack open a cold one in public in Eugene?

When can you crack open a cold one in public in Eugene? »Play Video
Better be tailgating at Autzen on game day or on private property, buddy, or that open beer might land you in jail

EUGENE, Ore. - Crack a beer and walk down the street near the University of Oregon and you might spend the night in jail.

Pop the top on a cold one in the parking lot at Autzen Stadium before a Duck football game, however, and you might get hit up to make a donation to one of the alumni groups hosting a tailgater.

By Eugene city ordinance, it's illegal to have an open container of alcohol off of private property or a licensed vendor's premises. Regulated beer gardens at events like the Eugene Celebration are permitted by Oregon's liquor regulators. And open containers are OK on private property - as long as you are over 21.

That doesn't stop people in the neighborhoods near the University of Oregon dubbed "party central" by residents from breaking the law.

"Just on a regular weekend night you'll see open containers, people walking around with beer or something," Oregon student Olivia Torres told KVAL News.

"They see us, they try to hide that," said Lt. Sam Kamkar with the Eugene Police Department. "It's like a kid caught with his hand in a cookie jar."

The notable exception to the city's open container laws: tailgating at Autzen Stadium, a public place where open container laws don't apply for a few hours every game day.

Open container laws don't apply to parking lots at the stadium four hours before kickoff through the end of the game. But as soon as you step out of the parking lot and onto the sidewalk or street, the fun is over.

Police have vowed to use space in the Springfield Jail to detain people who violate jailable alcohol offenses until they can post bail. In the past, police might have issued a citation telling the offender to report to court at a future date. >>> List of alcohol offenses