man-driving-with-open-bottle-of-alcohol

Can My Passenger Have an Open Container in My Car?

Picture it: you’re driving with a few friends and someone in the back seat cracks open a beer. While this may seem harmless in your eyes, that open can may get you into legal trouble as the driver.

Georgia open container laws have some exceptions that allow for open containers in vehicles, but you should be aware of the cases in which an open alcoholic beverage can create problems.

Understanding Georgia Open Container Laws

What Constitutes an Alcoholic Beverage?

Under Georgia law, an alcoholic beverage is:

  • A fermented beverage produced from malt or a malt substitute, such as beer, that 0.5% or more alcohol by volume

  • Wine with at least 0.5% alcohol by volume

  • Any distilled spirit

What Constitutes an Open Container?

Any bottle, can, or other receptacle holding any amount of alcohol is considered an “open container” if it:

  • Is opened

  • Has a broken seal

  • Has had its content partially removed

Can Anyone in the Vehicle Have an Open Container?

Open containers are illegal for anyone to have in the vehicle. Drivers cannot have an open alcoholic beverage in their possession or in any area that is easily accessible to them. This includes the passenger area next to them and diagonally behind them.

What are The Exceptions to Open Container Laws?

You can have an open container in your car if:

  • The vehicle is designated for use to transport alcohol

  • It is a malt beverage made in a private residence

  • It is an unfinished bottle of wine from a restaurant with the receipt

It is important to note that if you’re transporting alcohol in your residential vehicle, it must be properly sealed and labeled and locked in a glovebox, trunk, or area behind the driver’s seat.

Can I Get a DUI from Having an Open Container in My Car?

While having an open container in your vehicle is an infraction in itself, if you’re pulled over under suspicion of DUI and have partially or fully-empty containers in your car, their presence can be used as evidence to convict you.

Fighting DUI in the Savannah Area

Being charged with a DUI is not only stressful, but it can create serious problems outside of the courtroom. That's why you need an attorney that listens to you and fights aggressively to protect your freedom and future.

Contact The Lerch Law Firm today to speak to our team and begin building your case.