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I heard it's technically illegal to have an alcoholic beverage that is not in the same state it was sold in, in public. Does this mean

  1. if a single can of beer is missing from a six pack it is illegal?
  2. if a bottle of hard liquor has been opened and resealed, it is illegal?

Also, what is meant by "in public" in this context? For example if I'm walking down the street with a two six of vodka in my backpack that I had already drank from, would that be illegal? Does it matter if it's concealed?

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Section 73 of the British Columbia's Liquor Control and Licensing Act is the relevant law...

Unlawful possession or consumption of liquor

s.73(1) A person must not consume liquor, or possess liquor in an open container, in a place other than

(a) a residence,

(b) a private place,

(c) a service area in respect of which a licence, authorization or permit allows consumption,

(d) as provided under section 11,

(e) as provided under subsections (2) to (4) of this section,

(f) an assisted living residence, community care facility, hospital or other prescribed facility as provided in section 9, or

(g) in a liquor store as allowed under the Liquor Distribution Act.

(2) Subject to subsection (3) and the regulations, a public place, or part of it, may be designated, by a bylaw of the municipality or regional district that has jurisdiction over the public place, as a place where liquor may be consumed.

(3) A bylaw under subsection (2) must contain the hours during which liquor may be consumed.

(4) Without limiting subsection (2), regulations under that subsection may provide that a bylaw referred to in that subsection may not designate

(a) a specified public place, or

(b) a specified public place for a specified period of time.

If a single can of beer is missing from a six pack it is illegal?

No, as long as none of the cans are open.

If a bottle of hard liquor has been opened and resealed, it is illegal?

Not in its resealed state, but the act of opening the bottle may be unlawful depending on the circumstances.

What is meant by "in public" in this context

Everywhere not accounted for in s.73, above.

If I'm walking down the street with a two six of vodka in my backpack that I had already drank from, would that be illegal?

Not if the lid is on the vodka bottle as it's not an "open container". When and where you drank it is another matter.

Does it matter if it's concealed?

No.

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    The question hinges on the definition of "open container" which isn't specified in the statute. You seem to be assuming the obvious definition of "open" applies, but on what basis? It's also my understanding that in some jurisdictions, the term "open" in such laws is interpreted, by regulation or case law, in non-obvious ways. – Nate Eldredge Jan 27 at 16:00
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    @Nate Eldredge Good point, but there is no definition (obvious or otherwise) of open within the BC legislation, regulations or case law which I have researched thus far. It is my understanding that jurisdictions founded on English common law may apply the normal and everyday meaning of words in these situations, and I have yet to find anything to the contrary. However, I am open (no pun intended!) to be corrected. Thanks for your observations. – Rock Ape Jan 27 at 16:36
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    @NateEldredge FWIW, the definition of "open container" that Rock Ape is applying is the way that the term is commonly used the almost all jurisdictions that have open container laws. The restrictive definition suggested by the question would be very atypical and probably only applied if a specific definition in a law or regulation provided that this non-plain English definition apply. – ohwilleke Jan 28 at 17:31

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