If you have a motorhome or camper, then you can usually have an open container in the living, kitchen, or bedroom areas as long as there are no containers within reach of the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat.
If you want to go to a store and get an alcoholic beverage or even a case of beer, there’s usually nothing wrong with it as long as you’re of the legal age to make the purchase. However, if you start driving and open an alcoholic beverage, then you could be charged with having an open container.
Keep in mind that some of the laws pertaining to this situation might not always be clear and could be left to interpretation depending on the situation, which is why you should seek legal counsel if you’re facing charges.
Making a Difference
There are a few details that you want to look at surrounding open containers in different states. Some might charge the driver and the passengers in the vehicle if there is an open container while other states might have laws that only result in the person in physical possession being charged.
One thing you want to remember is that passengers can usually have an open container as long as the driver hasn’t been drinking.
Before you look at the charges surrounding an open container, you need to understand what types of unsealed products apply:
- Any alcoholic containers without lids
It’s usually common sense that you could be charged with a DUI if you’ve been drinking and driving. However, you could be charged with having an open container in your vehicle even if the car isn’t in motion, as you could drive soon after drinking and possibly be involved in an accident.
When there is any kind of open container in your vehicle, someone has to be held responsible. If you’re the only one in the vehicle, then you’re going to be the one who is charged. Even if you weren’t the one who purchased the beverage, you’re still going to be the one who is charged because it’s in your possession. However, if there are other people in your car, then an officer will likely talk to each person to try to determine who is responsible for possessing the beverage.
In the event that no one admits to owning the alcohol, then an officer might charge everyone or give everyone a warning and remove the alcohol so that it can no longer be consumed. This is one of the reasons why there’s still confusion around open container laws as some states are a bit more lenient than others, especially if they have decriminalized minor drugs like marijuana.
Allowed in Some Areas?
In most situations, the open container policy is only in effect for the passenger area of the front of the vehicle and the driver’s area. If there’s a container in the trunk or in the rear of the vehicle and out of reach of the driver or a passenger, then it might be allowed in the vehicle.
If you have a motorhome or camper, then you can usually have an open container in the living, kitchen, or bedroom areas as long as there are no containers within reach of the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat. Limousines and party buses typically fall into these allowances as well.
If you’re charged with having an open container in your vehicle, you should be prepared to at least talk to an attorney about your situation. Most penalties vary depending on where you live, but your criminal background can play a role in the final sentence handed down by the court. You could have to pay a small fine that’s usually around $100 and could be sentenced to spend a short time in jail if you’ve been in trouble before.