Alcohol-related charges go beyond just DUIs and DWIs; they also include open-container violations. These can occur whether you were driving a vehicle or not. Here is more information about different types of open container violations and how to handle them.
Possession of Open Containers
The first type of open container violation you might be charged with is when you have possession of the alcoholic container. This means you have an open liquor or beer bottle while in public, whether you were seen drinking it or not. If you are standing in front of a liquor store with an open beer, that is an open container violation since you are not allowed to drink outside in a public setting. However, if you were at a bar and were only a few steps from the door, the police officer might simply ask you to return to the bar's premises.
You also can't be in public places like a beach or park with an open container, even a flask. In most cases, police officers perform a sobriety test when they find you with an open container. This determines if you will also get a DUI in addition to the open container charge. If you weren't drinking the alcohol and pass the sobriety test, your punishment will be far less severe.
Open Containers in Your Vehicle
The next type of open container violation occurs when you are found with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, but you were not driving at the time. This is only a DUI or DWI if you were driving while consuming the alcohol. If not, you can get an open container violation if you are in the car with the alcohol or driving with an open bottle. Popping the top of a bottle of beer you just bought before you get home is against the law, but driving with closed alcohol containers is not. If you are pulled over and the police officer finds the open bottle, you may get a ticket or a more severe charge, depending on the circumstances. You may be able to lessen the charge if the open container was not within your grasp, such as if it was in the trunk or bed of your trunk.
Open Containers While Drinking and Driving
As you might have guessed by now, the final type of open container violation is one that involves drinking and driving. This will not only give you an open container violation if you were in possession of it in your car, but also a DUI or DWI charge. This means an arrest and possible jail time. Other possible punishments include paying fines, doing community service, and going to rehab.
To learn more, contact a DWI defense attorney like Gerstenzang O'Hern Sills & Gerstenzang.
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