What You Should Know About Open Container Violations

Posted on: 30 April 2015


When people think of DUI or alcohol-related charges, they often think about drinking and driving. However, you don't have to be driving in order to get arrested for having alcohol in your vehicle. If you have open alcoholic containers in your vehicle and are pulled over, you can get arrested for an open container violation. Here is more information about this type of violation.

You Had Possession of an Open Container

The first type of open container violation you can be charged with is when it is on your person. This means you were holding the container or it was within reach, such as a flask in your pocket or a bottle in your purse or suitcase. This can be any type of open container with an alcoholic beverage in it, whether it is a bottle, can or other container. You must also have been driving the vehicle on public roads in order to get this violation. The container can't just smell like alcohol; it has to have some alcohol left in it.

If you are found with an open container on your person, they will perform an alcohol test on-site. This will determine if you get a DUI charge or not. If you pass the alcohol test, you can still get the open container violation, but the DUI violation will not be tacked on. If you get both violations, your punishment will likely be more severe.

You Had an Open Container in Your Vehicle

Another common open container charge occurs when you didn't have the bottle on your person, but it was in the vehicle you were driving. Many states do not allow you to drive a vehicle with an open alcoholic container inside. Driving from the store to your home with closed bottles is not against the law. But once you pop the top while driving, you get a violation. To get this violation, you must have been the driver of the vehicle, been in the vehicle at the time of the violation, been driving on a public road, and had an open container anywhere in the vehicle. The trunk or bed of a truck are the only exceptions.

If you were arrested for an open container in the vehicle, but it was in the trunk, contact a criminal law attorney like Gerstenzang O'Hern Sills & Gerstenzang. This should be a good defense against your charge.

Drinking and Driving

This is different than a DUI or DWI, because you don't have to fail an alcohol test and the police don't have to prove you are drunk. If any police officer sees you drinking while you are in your vehicle while operating it, you can get this charge. This can also be added to some of the other open container violations.