Drinking and driving laws extend beyond the act of driving under the influence of alcohol. Although we all know that drinking and driving is illegal, the laws regarding open containers in a vehicle aren’t as commonly known. Did you know that DUI penalties can actually increase if open containers of alcohol are found in your vehicle? In this blog, we explain how open container laws might affect you if you’re arrested for a DUI.
Open Container Law
To put it simply, you can’t have open containers of alcohol in your car. This applies to all hard liquor, beer, and wine. You can still be cited for an open container even if your vehicle is parked and the ignition is turned off. Since alcoholic beverages can’t be present in seating areas of your vehicle, the open container law also extends to passengers who are traveling with you.
An “open container” doesn’t just refer to open receptacles containing alcohol, but also applies to any container that has been previously opened or has a broken seal. A resealed bottle of alcohol is still considered an open container according to the law.
Police are likely going to administer a sobriety test if you are found with an open container in your vehicle, even if you haven’t had anything to drink. If you are found to be under the legal limit, you will probably be charged for an open container, not a DUI. However, this can vary on a case by case basis. Generally, police will try to charge you with the most serious offense they possibly can.
It’s important to note that police do not need to prove you were drunk to convict you of drinking in a vehicle. In some states, it isn't even necessary that the officer actually saw you consume alcohol from the container in your vehicle. A skilled attorney can help you defend against both DUI and open container charges.
Contact our West Palm Beach team of DUI Lawyers, or call (561) 721-0552 to find out how we can assist with your case today.