Most states in the U.S. have open container laws that prohibit motorists from keeping opened containers of alcohol in the passenger area of a means. Any opened alcoholic beverage or unsealed bottle is considered an open container and must be kept out of reach of the driver. Typically, for a motorist to be in compliance with the law, the alcohol must be locked in the glove compartment, trunk, or other locked area that makes the alcohol far away to the driver. If you are pulled over and found to be in violation of these laws, the driver and possibly the passenger can be ticketed or arrested, depending on the specifics of the law in your state.
Federal Pressure Against Open Containers
The prohibition of opened containers of alcohol in a means is not a federal law. These laws are left up to the states, although the federal government has devised laws to put pressures on states to create open container laws. The federal government provides funding to states for highway construction, and if states fail to follow the federal government’s suggestion to create these laws, some of their funding is diverted to a highway safety program instead.
This pressure has been effective in getting most states to create and enforce open container laws, though some states, such as Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, and Connecticut do not have open container laws. In fact, in Mississippi, it is truly legal to drink while driving, as long as the driver stays under the legal BAC limit of 0.08. In the other states listed above, passengers are allowed to drink in a moving means, but not the driver.
In addition to the differences between states, there are some universal exceptions to laws against open alcohol containers in a means. Passengers of mass transit vehicles or vehicles that specialize in the commercial transportation of people, such as taxis, buses, and limousines, are not restricted by open container laws. Passengers of these vehicles may carry and transport open containers of alcohol. Also, occupants of motor homes may have open containers of alcohol in the living areas of the motor home.
Local police sometimes get open container laws confused and may try to ticket or arrest a passenger of a bus, taxi, or limo for having an open container. If this has happened to you, you have been wrongly ticketed or arrested and should consider contesting the charge. If you decide to not contest it, you risk having to pay a costly fine and also possibly having a misdemeanor additional to your criminal record. Consider contacting a DUI defense lawyer closest to help you properly contest the charge.
For More Information
To learn more about open container laws and exceptions to the law in your state, please visit the website of experienced Rhode Island DUI defense attorney James Powderly today.