Open Container Laws

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What Is an Open Container Law?

An open container law makes it a criminal offense to have an open container of alcohol inside the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle. Open container laws are an important tool in the fight against drunk driving

In many states, a violation of an open container is only an infraction with a fine. However, if the driver or a passenger is under the legal age of 21 and is caught with an open container of alcohol, the punishment can be much severe. In addition, many drivers could be charged with a DUI if the open container was with the driver at the time of driving.

The basic rule is that there are laws that you cannot operate or drive a motor vehicle with an open alcoholic beverage even if the alcohol has not been consumed by the driver or passenger.

Is There a Federal Open Container Law?

Open container laws vary from state to state. However, the federal government has established a program to encourage states to conform their open container laws to certain federal standards. 

A state's open container law must meet six standards to fully conform to the federal requirements: 

All but 14 states have open container laws that conform to the federal standards.

What Are the Defenses to Open Container Charges?

Open container laws vary from state to state, however there are some legal defenses to an open container charge:

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are arrested for having an open container, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.

Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents

If you are a victim of a Drunk Driving DUI/DWI accident, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer immediately to learn how to get compensation for your injuries.

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Last Modified: 09-03-2014 12:11 PM PDT

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