Everyone knows that it is against the law to drive while intoxicated. However, even if the driver is not drinking any alcohol, it is against the law to have an open alcoholic container in the vehicle. Open container laws make it illegal to have any alcohol in the passenger area of the vehicle, even for passengers in the back seat.
Open Container Laws
The open container laws that are in effect in Georgia, as well as the majority of states, conform to the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). By having laws that meet these standards, the states are eligible for certain funds from the federal government. Georgia has codified these requirements in O.C.G.A. 40-6-253.
It is a violation to consume an alcoholic beverage or to be in possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a vehicle. The passenger area is considered any are of the vehicle that is readily accessible to the driver or passengers, while in their seats. This includes an unlocked glove compartment.
However, a locked glove compartment is not included. In vehicles without a trunk, such as a truck, the area behind the rearmost upright seat not normally occupied by the driver or passengers is also excluded. The law does not apply to the living quarters of a motor home, or vehicles primarily used for transportation for compensation, such as a taxi or limo.
Alcoholic beverages includes any beer, ale, porter, stout, sake or similarly fermented beverages containing 0.5% or more alcohol by volume, brewed in any part from malt or malt substitute. It also includes wine and distilled spirits. Any container is considered open if it has a broken seal, or the contents have been partially removed.
Anyone who consumes alcohol or possesses an open alcohol container in the vehicle will be charged with the offense. In the event that the driver is alone in the vehicle, they will be deemed to be in possession for an open container anywhere in the vehicle. Violation of the open container law can result in a fine of up to $200. It will also add 2 points to your driving record.
In addition to charges for an open container violation, if the police notice an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, that may give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the driver has been drinking. The police may see the container, or smell alcohol emanating from the passenger area of the car. If a police officer suspects intoxication, they may ask a driver to submit to a breathalyzer test, or field sobriety testing, which may lead to an arrest for driving under the influence.
Atlanta Open Container Lawyer
If you have been arrested for having an open alcohol container in your car, you may receive a violation and fine. If the open container led to an arrest for a DUI, the penalties are much more severe. You may lose your license, spend time in jail, and have a DUI on your criminal record. Call me today, so we can discuss what happened in your case, and how we will fight to keep your license and defend your rights in court.