What Does Open Container Mean?
The words Open Container refer to the laws that prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages in certain areas. These laws were put into place in the interest of public health, to curtail public intoxication, and ultimately limit the amount of open containers in vehicles. An open container in a vehicle often leads to a driving under the influence arrest. Laws differ from state to state and at sanctioned public events. Check with your local authorities before consuming alcohol in a public area.
Open Container State Laws
While open container laws prohibiting the presence of alcohol in vehicles exists in 40 of the 50 states, the other 10 state’s laws differ from the standard. Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Delaware, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Alaska, and Connecticut have more lenient open container laws for vehicles than the other states. If you live in, or or traveling to those states mentioned check the state’s laws before possessing an open container in your vehicle.
Penalties For Having An Open Container In Your Vehicle
If an officer finds an open container in your car, you may be charged with DUI/DWI. The presence of an open container within your reach is a dead-giveaway to law enforcement that you may be currently intoxicated. A violation of the open container law, however, does not equate with DUI/DWI.
An offense requires that law enforcement connect the open container to a person cite in the vehicle. The open container must be within the control of the driver, or within the driver’s reach. The safest (and legal) way to travel with an open container in your vehicle is by having that bottle stowed in the trunk, or if the vehicle does not have a trunk (such a hatchback or pickup truck) that the container not be in the immediate control of the driver or their passengers.
Do not let your passengers drink while you are driving! If your passengers are consuming open beverages of alcohol while you’re driving- they can be cited for consuming the alcohol, and you can be cited for allowing that alcohol to be consumed while you’re in control of the vehicle. If you’ve been charged with having an open container in your vehicle, contact an experienced DUI attorney to fight your charges!