DUI Lawyer Tampa – Get Help if You’re Accused of an Open Container Violation
Other than DUI, open container violations are the most common alcohol offenses among drivers. Most states’ laws prohibit drivers from possessing bottles and cans of alcoholic beverages that have been opened. To prove an open container violation, these elements must exist:
- You must be in control of the vehicle.
- You must be driving on a public road.
- You must have had the glass, bottle or can within reach while driving.
- The container must have held alcoholic beverages when found by the officer (the smell of alcohol is not enough to prove a violation).
- The seal on the receptacle must be broken.
In most states, if an open alcohol container is found in your vehicle, you will be charged with a serious offense. If DUI is ruled out, open container laws are used to cite you in a less serious manner. The offense requires the officer to prove that the open container is yours, or within your reach. However, an open container anywhere in the vehicle can leave you vulnerable to a citation.
Keeping an Open Container in a Vehicle
Almost every state forbids driving with an open container in the vehicle. In some states, however, it is legal for passengers to drink alcohol while the vehicle is on the road. It is less serious to possess an open container than to drink from it, but a conviction can affect your insurance rates and your driver’s license status.
DUI lawyer Tampa – Call us now if you have been arrested for a Free Case Evaluation and to get your questions answered. The clock is running…Call (813) 252-1300 now!
Elements of the Open Container Offense
In an open container offense, the driver or owner of the vehicle must have had an open can, bottle or glass of alcohol within their reach and somewhere other than the trunk. For hatchbacks and pickup trucks, the container must be somewhere not normally used by passengers or drivers, other than the glove compartment. The only legitimate defense is the “mistake of fact” defense, where you and your attorney can say that you did not know that the opened container was in the car. This defense is only usable if a passenger opened the container without your knowledge, and is willing to testify in court.
If You Are Caught Drinking in Your Car, Call A DUI Lawyer in Tampa
Every state’s laws forbid drivers (and most laws forbid passengers) from consuming alcohol while the vehicle is in motion. An officer will administer sobriety tests on drivers caught with open containers, and will likely test if the container is found in a passenger area. While State laws vary, in Hillsborough County FL even if you pass the test, state law can still charge you with drinking and an open container violation; however, the officer must be able to prove that the container was accessible. This often gives a good lawyer opportunities to present legal arguments to defend you. A DUI lawyer in Tampa can often get charges reduced or dropped. Call the DUI lawyer Tampa team today for fast help.
Hiring a Tampa DUI Lawyer to Help in an Open Container Case
Every state’s open container and DUI laws are different, and you should not try to plead your case alone. If you are accused of violating your state’s open container law, or you have committed another alcohol-related offense, we recommend that you call a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. A DUI lawyer in Hillsborough County FL can inform you of your responsibilities and rights, and they can help you formulate a good defense. Get answers about your case and a free evaluation by calling (813) 252-1300 today.