A Jacksonville DUI lawyer may be able to help shed light on the complicated matter of passengers drinking alcohol in a moving vehicle. While it may be common knowledge that drivers are not permitted to operate vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or other impairing substances, whether passengers are allowed to drink may vary according to state and local laws. Even states that do prohibit open containers in a moving vehicle may have exceptions that can be confusing.
Open Container Laws
Most states prohibit driving with any open cans, bottles, or other unsealed containers of alcohol, even if the driver is not drinking. Even carrying empty alcohol containers on sidewalks and streets is prohibited in many areas. Some states allow the presence of unsealed alcohol containers if they are in a secure location, such as a locked trunk or glove compartment where they may not be easily accessed. An overwhelming majority of 43 states have some type of open container law in place. Of those states, 40 conform to federal guidelines that mandate open container laws. If you are driving with an open container of alcohol on your person or within reach, you may be cited for an open container violation. Even if the container is in possession of a passenger, both you and the passenger may be cited.
There are seven states that do not have open container laws, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia. Alaska, Louisiana, and Tennessee have open container laws that do not conform with federal guidelines. In states which do not ban open alcohol containers in vehicles, passengers may drink alcohol as long as they are not in violation of any local open container ordinances. As long as no local ordinances are being violated, passengers may legally drink alcohol in a moving vehicle. In Mississippi, even drivers are allowed to drink as long as their BAC level remains under the legal limit. Even in states where open container laws are in effect, some municipalities have specific ordinances that offer an exemption to open container laws under certain circumstances. These exemptions are designed to boost tourism in areas such as the French Quarter in New Orleans. A DUI lawyer may be able to help clarify these special circumstance exceptions to open container laws.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville DUI Lawyer
If you were arrested for a DUI, a skilled lawyer may be able to help you evaluate the evidence surrounding your arrest and build a strong defense. A lawyer may also be able to provide you with the representation you need in court and to ensure that your legal rights are protected, from questioning the performance of any field sobriety and chemical tests to evaluating whether you really were in violation of any local or state open container laws at the time of the arrest. Contact Canan Law today at (904) 849-2266 for a consultation with a Jacksonville DUI lawyer who may be able to ensure that you get the representation you deserve.