Generally in North Carolina it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of any vehicle. This includes a vehicle in motion or a parked vehicle. A container will be considered an “open” container for legal purposes if the seal of the container is broken. As with almost any area of the law there are exceptions to this general rule which would allow an open container of alcohol to be lawfully present in the vehicle so long as the driver of the vehicle has not consumed any alcoholic beverage. These exceptions include:
1.) It is in the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, manufactured, and used primarily for transportation of persons for compensation. This includes vehicles such as buses and taxis generally.
2.) The vehicle is a house trailer; and
3.) The passenger area is a motor home or home car
If someone has a container of alcohol which the seal has broken to in their vehicle he or she may be charged with having an open container in their vehicle unless one of the above exceptions applies. If the driver of the vehicle is charged with DWI and there is an open container in the vehicle stiffer penalties may apply.
If you should find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a DWI you need to contact an attorney who has the experience and knowledge necessary to handle your case with the care it deserves. For a private, confidential consultation with one of our experienced DWI lawyers, please call 704-499-9000 or toll-free 877-374-5999 even on weekends or holidays. Visit our main page here.