Can I get Cited for Crimes at the Beach in Chicago?

Summer time brings most everyone outside to enjoy the sun and surf in Chicago.  This is a season of fun, relaxing, and getting together.  There are a few things you should know about various laws that may impact you when you get out there and enjoy the beach at Lake Michigan.

Beach Rules

First, no dogs are allowed on the beach unless otherwise posted.  In fact, you may need a permit for your dog, which you have to obtain at participating Chicagoland veterinarians at a cost of $5 per tag.

Second, there are open container laws in effect that prohibit alcohol consumption in certain public places.  Somewhat related is that smoking is not allowed either.  Smoking and drinking on a public beach could in the very least lead to a citation, if not more serious trouble with police.  Public drinking could result in steep fines and up to 6 months in jail.

In the water, you are only permitted to swim when a lifeguard is on duty.  You are also required to follow lifeguard instructions.  As for flotation devices, you are only allowed to use those that are Coast Guard approved.  If you are a surfer, windsurfer, or kiteboarder these activities are only allowed in certain areas.

When it comes to food, be sure to only grill in designated areas and dispose of your coals properly.  Also, do not feed birds or wildlife.  Although this rule if for the protection of the animals, it is actually for your protection too.  Apparently, bird droppings may carry high levels of E.coli and poses a risk to beachgoers if birds are encouraged to hang around people and contaminate the water.

Lastly, disorderly conduct is actually illegal, so be mindful of your behavior or you could be cited or even arrested.  Disorderly conduct includes anything that constitutes a breach of peace, poses a threat of violence, failure to obey a police officer’s request to desist offensive conduct or disperse, and being publicly drunk to the point of posing a danger to self or others.  Each offense carries a fine of up to $500.

These may seem like minor infractions, but any citation or arrest is a serious matter.  It could lead to fines, jail time, loss of work, and many other inconveniences and disruptions to your life.  While out having fun, ensure that it is not interrupted by an encounter with law enforcement.  If you do find yourself in this unfortunate situation, contact a qualified Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney immediately.

Practice Areas

Our Blog