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Is D.O.R.A. Coming to your Town?

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Is D.O.R.A. Coming to your Town?

Apr 3, 2023
DORA cup with yellow beverage

Jennifer Benson, BA, OCPC, ICPS

OCAM Coach

When you hear this phrase, what do you think about?  Do you think about the cartoon character who uses a map, her knowledge of the Spanish language, and her backpack to overcome obstacles and reach her goals, while trying to avoid Swiper? You would be right for the name Dora but the acronym D.O.R.A. is something quite different.

D.O.R.A. stands for Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area and is defined for Ohio in the Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules in Section 4302.82 as a “specified area of land that a local legislative authority has designated as exempt from certain open container provisions.” Local legislative authority may include city councils, county councils, townships governments, or other local governing bodies. This law is used to create an area where an open container restriction might prohibit carrying open alcohol outside of a licensed establishment.

A DORA, in basic terms, is a geographically specific location where people, aged 21 and over, can consume and carry alcohol while they are walking in this designated area. You can purchase an alcoholic beverage at one establishment and then leave that establishment and carry the alcohol throughout the DORA location, including into other DORA establishments which do not have a license to sell alcohol. A DORA might include a downtown shopping district, an area that features many drinking and eating establishments, or an area where the community might present concerts or shows.

Here is one example:  A small town has a downtown area that consists of two bars, three restaurants that also sell alcohol, small shops, and an art gallery.  When this area is designated a DORA, customers can purchase a special DORA cup of alcohol at one of the bars, carry that alcohol out of the establishment, walk down the street and enter one of the shops with the open container of alcohol, as long as that shop is participating in the DORA. Shops and other establishments can choose to allow customers to bring alcohol into their buildings.

What DORA does not allow is for a person to carry an open container of alcohol into a different establishment that sells alcohol.  DORA does not change laws regarding alcohol and the operation of vehicles.  Shops, bars, and restaurants can choose to not participate.

So, what does this mean for prevention coordinators?  We have a voice in our communities and should use that voice to ensure that the policies and laws enacted protect the health and welfare of community members.  Attend city council meetings.  Learn what laws are in place in your community.  Help to establish the laws and include verbiage about the times, locations, and rules around the DORA. Ensure that those who are serving the alcohol are trained in safe serving techniques.

You may not stop DORA from coming to your town, but you should be aware of and involved in creation of the laws surrounding it.

Ohio Department of Commerce

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