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What is an Open Container Law and how does it affect me?

Drunk driving is a serious offense and can be extremely hazardous to both the intoxicated driver and other cars on the road. But, in its zeal to catch dangerous drunk drivers, the law has begun to affect more than just drunk drivers. In many cases, it also affects drunk passengers and sober drivers with drunk passengers. This is due largely to what is called an Open Container law, which makes it illegal to have open containers (such as bottles or cans) for alcoholic beverages inside vehicles. Even empty containers that once contained alcohol can get you into trouble.

What this means is that who is actually drinking a beverage is irrelevant. If you are driving a car and you are completely sober, but your passenger is drinking from an open can of beer, you can be cited for an alcohol-related violation. If law enforcement spies an open container in your car, they may feel justified in testing your sobriety, which could lead to big trouble, and maybe even a DUI offense.

Consider the following hypothetical: you went to the local bar with your buddies, but you made sure not to drink too much since you knew you were driving. A police officer pulls you over on the way home for a busted taillight that you didn’t know about, and sees your friend with an open bottle of beer in his hand. The officer could have you take a field sobriety test or a Breathalyzer test, which you could fail even if your BAC is below the legal limit. Malfunctions or errors could happen, and next thing you know, you are charged with a serious DUI when you did nothing wrong.

Currently, Florida is one of 43 states with an open container law. If you live in Florida and you carry open alcoholic beverages in your car, you could face charges. If you’ve been charged with DUI and you believe you are innocent, an experienced attorney may be able help you prove your innocence.

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