Open container violations are usually defined as: possessing an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a moving vehicle. This includes an area of the vehicle that is “readily accessible” to the driver or a passenger (including consoles and glove compartments). It includes alcoholic beverages of all types, and generally refers to cars that are located on public roads and highways.
Open container violations are frequently associated with routine traffic stops and DUI checkpoints. If a police officer spots an open container in during a routine traffic stop, they are usually allowed to confiscate the evidence and file charges for an open container violation. In other words, if a police officer pulls a person over for one reason (such as a broken taillight) and then discovers an open container in the process, the officer can legally confiscate the open container and charge the driver for violating an open container law, so long as the initial stop was legal.
There may be some defenses for open container charges. For instance, these include:
- The beverage was actually in a place where it is legal to store open containers in a car
- The beverage was not truly classifiable as an alcoholic beverage
- The car was not in operation on a public highway or an area subject to regulation
On the whole, however, open container charges can be somewhat difficult to defend against, as many cases involve obvious violations. In most cases, the expert opinion of a lawyer is needed when dealing with charges.
Open container violations can result in citations, and in some cases, misdemeanor charges. You may wish to hire a DUI/DWI lawyer near you if you’re facing charges for an open container violation. Your lawyer can represent you during trial and can also provide you with legal advice regarding possible defenses. Also, a lawyer can help ensure that your rights as a criminal defendant are being protected.