Originally, lawmakers created open container laws to prevent public drinking. These laws also apply to those who are in cars as well. However, these laws can have some exceptions which complicate things. Understanding these laws can help you avoid a potential mistake…
Open Container Laws: Know the Meaning
Understanding the law
Open container laws make it illegal to drive a car with open containers of alcohol inside. These laws still applies even if the car is in park. Furthermore, these laws also apply to those driving other vehicles like motorcycles, ATV’s, and even golf carts.
It is also illegal to drink an alcoholic beverage while driving. Certain states have exceptions to this law for passengers in the vehicle. However, in North and South Carolina, it is also illegal for a passenger to drink or have an open container.
What is an “open container”?
A container of alcohol is “open” whenever its seal is broken. For example, open bottles, cans, and flasks with alcohol in them would be considered open containers. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol is in these containers.
However, there are a few exceptions to open container laws…
A person can move an open container as long as it isn’t in the “passenger area”. Therefore, if you must move an open container, place it someplace like your trunk. Open containers are legal within the living spaces of RVs and motor homes.
Closed and empty containers
Of course, when it comes to closed containers, there is a difference. These unopened containers can be in the “passenger area” without any issue. It’s important to know too that this area consists of not just the passenger side, but also the rear seats and even the glove compartment.
The law also considers empty containers to still be “open”. That means you shouldn’t drive with them in an easy-to-access place. Try to take the same precautions mentioned earlier when you must drive with an empty container, like placing it out-of-reach in your trunk.
It’s always best to avoid driving with any kind of open alcoholic container. Even if you aren’t drinking, you can still be hit with fines and even jail time, much like with a DUI. If you can, leave those leftover drinks behind instead of bringing them with.