You may have an open container of alcohol in your car, and not even think about it. Maybe it was a leftover bottle of wine, or liquor from a party that you have been meaning to take into your house. Or you may be acting as the designated driver for some friends who decide to take a beer with them on the road. Either way, an open container of alcohol in the car is a violation of state law, and in some situations, can lead a police officer to arresting you for driving under the influence.
Georgia Open Container Law
Georgia, like most states, has a ban on open containers in a vehicle. Most of these laws are very similar, because the federal government withholds some highway funding for states that don't enact a law that meets the federal government's requirements.
Under Georgia code 40-6-253, it is a violation to consume or possess an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle. This applies to anywhere in the interior of the car where a passenger or driver can access the container, including an unlocked glove box. In trucks, or vehicles without a trunk, alcohol is to be stored behind the furthest back upright seat, in an area not normally used by a driver or passenger. This prohibition does not apply to passengers in a taxi or limousine, but individual companies may restrict alcohol in their cars.
The open container rule applies to any kind of alcoholic beverages, including wine, liquor, and any beer over ½ of 1% alcohol. Non-alcoholic beers are required to have less than ½ of 1% alcohol, so they may not count. The container is considered open if the seal is broken, or any of the contents have been removed.
If the police find you with an open container of alcohol in your car, you will get a ticket, a fine of up to $200, and 2 points on your license. Getting enough points within two years may result in a suspended license. If a passenger has the alcohol, they will receive the violation, however, if there are no passengers, then the driver will be considered to be in possession of any alcohol within the passenger area of the car.
But the real problem with an open container is that it may lead the police to suspect the driver is operating under the influence of alcohol. If the police smell alcohol, or see a beer can or liquor bottle, they may try and get the driver to admit to drinking alcohol and driving. Even if the driver says they haven't been drinking, the police may try and get the driver to submit to field sobriety tests, which can be an inaccurate indicator of alcohol level, and are not ever required by law. You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests.
Open Container Violation Lawyer in Atlanta
If you or a loved one has been stopped with an open container violation, it could lead the police to arresting you for driving under the influence, even if you weren't intoxicated. Don't let the state automatically take away your license to drive just because the officer thought you were intoxicated. An arrest does not have to result in a conviction. I will make sure you are treated fairly by the courts and the state. Call me anytime, day or night, and wWe will fight the charges against you, to make sure the DUI stays off your record.