The Open Container Law in Georgia & DUI Cases
Every resident of the United States has heard of the open container law. It is a regulation designed to minimize impaired driving and related crashes on America’s roads. However, many do not understand the open container laws in their state and how they can affect their DUI case.
Our Doraville DUI lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers understand the serious nature of open container violations and how they can lead to drunk driving charges.
What Is the Open Container Law in Georgia?
The open container law in Georgia prohibits the consumption of alcohol in any vehicle while on a public roadway. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-253 declares that no driver can be in possession of any open alcoholic beverage container, including both beer and wine, while driving in the passenger area of their vehicle. The trunk and locked glove compartments are not considered part of the passenger area.
Even if your regular passenger has an open container, you, as the driver, can incur charges for violating the open container law.
Open Containers and DUI Cases
In Georgia, open container charges can be paired with DUI charges. However, an open container charge does not necessarily mean that you will face a DUI conviction. Prosecutors can try to use an open container charge as evidence of alcohol consumption and root your DUI charges. Put differently, if you were drinking in your vehicle and charged with an open container violation, you might have to deal with DUI charges as well.
5 Potential Defenses to an Open Container Charge
Facing charges for open container violations can be daunting. If you have been accused of violating the open container law in Georgia, you need an experienced lawyer by your side. Here are five potential arguments that your lawyer might present to defend your case:
- You were not in possession of the open container. To be guilty of the open container violation, possession must be established. Your lawyer can use this to your advantage and argue that you were not in possession of the open container.
- It was your passengers’ open container. If you are the driver and the open container belongs to your passenger, it could be a possible defense against the open container charge.
- It was in the trunk: If the open container was in the trunk and not in the passenger compartment, it becomes a possible defense against the open container violation.
- Unintentional error. Your defense lawyer can argue that you were not aware of the open container’s presence.
- Invalid stop. Invalid traffic stops give room for challenging DUI charges and open container violations in many instances.
Each case is unique, which is why you might want to discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer to explore possible defense options.
Discuss Your Case with a Lawyer
The open container law in Georgia is a serious regulation with high penalties. If you are charged with an open container violation and/or a DUI, it is essential to seek legal representation. Reach out to Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers to discuss the facts of your case and determine your best course of action when facing open container violation or DUI charges. Our lawyers serve Doraville, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Dunwoody, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Gwinnett County, Fulton County, and Cobb County. Call 770-685-6400 to get a free case review.