open container drivingYou know, sometimes “big brother” just bugs me. There are a lot of really great laws on the books for really good reasons. As I have written in previous blogs, I do not advocate drunk driving, but with a general push to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) standard as to what is considered intoxication, it seems our personal liberties continually shrink. Driving while intoxicated, either from alcohol or drugs, is just a bad idea. You don’t have the right to take the well-being of others into your hands just because you want to catch a buzz. Want a buzz? Fine, then call a cab, but with our government trying to regulate just about everything, there are liberties that we have lost that are excessive.

One such infringement upon personal liberties was the federal government’s push in 1998 to bar people from having an open alcoholic container in a vehicle. The idea behind it was to keep people from engaging in drunk driving, but the problem arises when states institute a zero tolerance. The federal program was not mandatory, but if individual states did not pass open container laws, the federal government would “punish” these states by holding back on things like monies to improve state highways. Needless to say, this encouraged most states to enact open container laws of one type or another.

Think about it; maybe you just left a party to which you brought a bottle of vodka. You leave the party with only two drinks served out of the bottle, and you are then in violation of the open container law because the seal on the bottle has been broken. This doesn’t mean that you actually DRANK any of the vodka, just that someone at the party you attended has, and you were foolish enough to take the bottle home with you.

The Florida statute (Section 316.1936) that addresses this issue reads as follows:

(2)(a) It is unlawful and punishable as provided in this section for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle in the state or while a passenger in or on a vehicle being operated in the state.
(b) It is unlawful and punishable as provided in this section for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while seated in or on a motor vehicle that is parked or stopped within a road as defined in this section. Notwithstanding the prohibition contained in this section, passengers in vehicles designed, maintained, and used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation and in motor homes are exempt.

As you can tell, this leaves very little latitude in the interpretation of the law. You can’t even drive with one of your passengers taking home the remains from a party. In fact, picking up empty beer cans or bottles to throw away or recycle can result in a violation. Although this may pale in comparison to a lot of other traffic tickets that you may receive, it still results in a moving violation, points on your license, and an insurance rate hike if you simply pay the traffic citation.

The traffic ticket attorneys at the Traffic Ticket Team have handled hundreds of open container traffic tickets. Many times we are able to get them dismissed or reduced so, never just pay an open container traffic ticket. Let us work to make sure that there is no conviction on your record so that it doesn’t impact your driving record or insurance rates. Give us a call for a free consultation at 954-967-9888 and let us fight your open container ticket for you.

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