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Why you must know about ‘Open Container’ laws

Last night millions of Americans were celebrating our favorite unofficial holiday…the Super Bowl. Some of us were watching at home, perhaps even hanging out in the backyard of a friend’s party. Many of us watched the big game at a bar. How many of us walked outside, in a neighborhood or around a bar, holding an open container full of alcohol? Or maybe even sat in the passenger seat with an open container of alcohol? Carrying an open beer or any other kind of alcoholic beverage is a risky proposition. In the state of FL, it’s illegal for a driver or passenger to be inside a vehicle while possessing an open container of alcoholic, while the vehicle is being operated.

The legal definition of an ‘open container’ is “any container of alcoholic beverage which is immediately capable of being consumed, or the seal of which has been broken.” It’s also considered to be illegal even if the container is not in the possession of a passenger. If it is not located in a locked glove compartment, or a locked trunk, or any other locked non-passenger area of the vehicle, you will get busted.

The penalty can be pretty stiff for carrying an open container full of alcohol. The penalty for possession of an open container for both the driver and any passengers can range from a non-criminal moving traffic violation, with a heavy fine, to up to possibly 60 days in jail if the person is under 21. There are many solid defenses to having an open container inside your vehicle. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, a defense attorney can question as to why the police singled you out. You need to know your rights and not let your record be tarnished for a minor infraction like carrying an open container of alcohol.

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