The municipal council in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv has amended public order regulations to provide for a fine of 100 to 3000 leva (about 50 to 1500 euro) for anyone who consumes alcohol or other intoxicants in streets, squares, parks, green spaces and other public places.
The council also approved higher fines for breaking noise regulations, which ban excessive noise between 2pm and 4pm and from 11am to 8am.
For breaking noise rules, the fine for individuals will be 500 to 1000 leva, and for juristic persons and sole traders, 3000 to 6000 leva. Second and further offences will mean fines for individuals of 2000 to 6000 leva and for owners of establishments, 5000 to 12 000 leva.
The council also voted for the imposition of fines for begging in public, as well as for being drunk or under the influence of narcotics while trying to enter public buildings or other public places. The size of the fines will be decided at administrative level.
In an article commenting on the decision to impose fines of up to 3000 leva for drinking in public places, Plovdiv news website podtepeto.com described the city council decision as “absurd”.
The article questioned the practicality of the legislation, asking whether inspectors would check whether beer was alcohol-free or not. “What if I drink vodka in a bottle of mineral water? Will she take my bottle to the lab? Or will she drink from it immediately to check?”
The text raised several other points, including that if Plovdiv wanted to make money from fines, it could have been more creative in doing so. It asked whether the legislation was mere simulation of activity, and would never be enforced, and thus city councillors were wasting their time. It also asked whether it was lobbyism, with the idea that if people could not drink in parks, they would drink in Plovdiv establishments.
Allowing drinking alcohol in public would “show that we live in an open and free society”.
“We’re not in Saudi Arabia…most secular and civilised cities in Europe have no problem with drinking beer in the park,” the article said.