It is not uncommon for a Florida police officer or trooper to add a charge of driving with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle on top of a DUI charge. To protect yourself, you should know the basics of the state’s open container law.
Elements of Florida’s open container law
It is against the law to be in possession of an opened container of alcohol in your vehicle while on the road. Note that by “road,” the statute means alleys, ditches, culverts and sidewalks, as well as things like highways and streets that we usually think of as “roads.” Also, the container does not have to be literally open; as long as “the seal” of the container “has been broken,” the liquor container is open in the eyes of the law.
Possession does not only mean in the driver’s hand or the cup holder next to the driver’s seat. Any bottle or can not in a locked nonpassenger part of the vehicle, such as the trunk, is considered to be in the driver’s possession, even if it is not within reach. And passengers are also banned from holding open alcohol containers. Finally, the open container law has nothing to do with if you are driving under the influence or not.
The exception for unfinished wine
There is one exception for a bottle of wine that you bought at a restaurant and did not finish. You can drive the remaining wine home as long as the wine is in a secured bag with a receipt attached, and you place the bagged wine in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.
Despite these restrictions, it is possible in many cases to overcome an open container charge. For example, you may be able to show that the container was not open or in your possession. Talk to a criminal defense attorney in the Tallahassee area about the details of your case.