While driving your car, you are not allowed to have any alcohol containers, such as bottles and cans, that have been opened, having broken seal, nor had its content partially removed.
The leading non-DUI/DWI offense related to alcohol charged to a driver is the open container violation.
Here are the elements involved in an open container violation:
- You are driving a motor vehicle.
- You are driving on a highway or any public roads. This does not include parking lots and private roads.
- You have an alcohol container, like a glass, a bottle or a can near you, in your pocket or in your hand.
- The container has alcoholic beverage of any amount when seen by the officer. The smell of alcohol is not ample to be considered as an offense.
- If the bottle’s seal is broken or the alcoholic beverage in the container is partially removed, then it is considered a violation.
Usually, when an officer sees that there is an open container of an alcoholic beverage in your car, rest assured, you will be accused with open container violation. This is the next big offense an officer can charge you with if he or she rules out DUI/DWI.
If you are accused for open container violation, and you can’t come up with an acceptable defense, you better negotiate with the officer for a lighter violation. You can go for an open container kept in vehicle violation. The major defense for this violation is you didn’t know the open container was in the vehicle.
If only the passenger has the open container, he or she will be cited with open container violation along with the driver for letting that person bring an open alcoholic container in the car, so be careful in letting other people in your car.
To get through an open container violation, it is best to consult or hire a lawyer to guide you through the legal proceedings.