You may have heard of the term "open container," but many people do not fully understand what this term means. While many people know that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense in Georgia, they often overlook the rules regarding open containers.
GA Open Container LawGeorgia's open container law prohibits driving with an alcohol beverage in your car that has been opened. Under this GA law, both the consumption and possession of an open alcoholic beverage are prohibited. Even a beverage that has a broken seal is considered illegal.
You may also be arrested for having an open container in the passenger area of the vehicle or in an unlocked glove compartment as well.
Depending on what locality you live in, the penalties you may face for this type of criminal charge may vary. If you are arrested in Atlanta, for example, you may receive a citation and a fine. This type of citation and subsequential fine can typically be paid online and may seem minor and insignificant. The maximum fine is usually $250, but if you are under the age of 21 and are caught violating this law, you could face six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine, in addition to a misdemeanor level charge.
Thankfully, you can fight these penalties with the help of an Atlanta DUI attorney who has experience handling these types of charges.
There are a variety of legal defenses to this accusation, including:
- You were in a "hired" car, such as a bus, taxi or limousine
- The alcohol was actually in the trunk
- There was no probable cause for the police to stop you
- The police only discovered your open container because they performed an illegal search and seizure
For more information, you can look up Georgia Code, Section 40-6-253(b). This law is similar to the federal law on open containers, which also promises a certain amount of highway funding to states who stick to the federal guidelines regarding open containers. Open container charges are sometimes directly related to DUI charges and underage DUI arrests, and you should take immediate action to protect your rights if you have been arrested for a DUI.
Before you can be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must be able to prove that you were in possession of the open container. If you were one of four passengers in a car, you can't be convicted of violating Georgia's open container law unless the prosecutor can prove that the container was either on your person or under your control.