Open Containers And Violations: What To Know

Having an open container of an alcoholic beverage is illegal in many areas. Read on to find out more about this violation and what to expect after an arrest or citation.

States and Places Matter

Within some cities, so-called entertainment districts may offer people the opportunity to be out in public with an open container. Pay attention to the times, days, and which streets are included in the district, however. Some entire cities in the US allow open containers in public. Parks and beaches vary regarding the rules. Some beaches restrict or ban alcohol during spring break season only. However, places with generous open container laws have strict rules about having them in vehicles.

Vehicles and Open Containers

Drinking in public is different from open container issues. In many cases, public intoxication charges are more serious than having an open container. When it comes to motor vehicles, however, it's usually illegal for all occupants to have an open container with them. Surprisingly, some states do allow passengers to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle but not the driver. Check your state laws for details before you assume anything. 

One of the main issues with open containers and vehicles is that you cannot drink and drive under any circumstances. As far as the law sees things, having a person in your vehicle with an open container provides the driver with easy access to the container. You should also consider what each state views as an open container. It's not just about a can of beer. Any container that has been opened is considered an open container. That means you should think twice about the way you transport that opened bottle of wine or liquor in your vehicle. In most cases, the booze must be as far away from the driver as possible and that usually means being in the truck or far back of a vehicle.

Exceptions exist for ride-sharing vehicles, recreational vehicles, busses, (party busses), limousines, etc.

The Legal Ramifications

Open container violations rarely call for an arrest. Instead, the alcohol is confiscated, and the offender is cited. However, ignoring a citation can result in a warrant for your arrest in some situations. This type of violation may be considered minor and a misdemeanor at the most, but it can impact your life, your employment, and your reputation. If you disagree with the charge, read the back of the citation and find out how to challenge it in court. Speak to a criminal lawyer for advice on dealing with an open container violation.