The state of Florida is always looking for ways to crack down on instances in which an individual has had a little too much to drink and then gets behind the wheel of a car. In addition to heavy penalties, Florida police are some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to patrolling for any indication of drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is the most frequently committed violent crime in America today. On top of that, when that violent crime turns into a death, alcohol is the leading cause of those deaths. One way that states try to limit these accidents is through open container laws.
Generally speaking, an open container law forbids alcohol in the passenger area of your car. The passenger area extends much further than the cup holder and includes any area of the car that is readily accessible to the driver and passengers. Open container laws also extend to the possession of an open container of alcohol in public places.
Florida law says that it is unlawful to possess an open container while operating a vehicle. This also extends to passengers riding in your car with an open container. So unless the open container is in a locked location in your vehicle (i.e. locked glove compartment, locked trunk or other locked non-passenger area) the police will likely be able to give you an open container ticket.
Here’s a look at the penalties associated with the two most common open container driving scenarios in Florida:
- Passenger in possession of an open container: If your shotgun driver is also drinking a beer, then he is looking at a noncriminal moving traffic violation. Unfortunately, as the driver of the vehicle you are also looking at noncriminal moving traffic violation as well. Fines and points assessed to your Florida driving record are the punishments attached to this open container violation. As you probably already know, points on your driving record means increased insurance premiums.
- Driver in possession of an open container: If you are driving the car and also found to be in possession of an open container then the penalties are similar to the ones discussed in the first scenario. In many instances, an open container ticket also prompts a police officer to begin a DUI investigation. Unfortunately, if you have been stopped for a potential DUI in Florida and the police find an open container in your vehicle, then you may face enhanced charges.
When it comes to Florida open container laws, there are a lot of gray areas. If you have recently been cited for having an open container in Florida, get in touch with the attorneys at Finebloom & Haenel today. Our attorneys are well respected in the legal community and always focused on getting you the best results possible. We will go over the facts of your case and explain your legal options. Give us a call today for a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!