Open container laws pertain to any open alcoholic beverage in a vehicle. Regardless of the type of alcohol, if it is open and in a moving vehicle, it is illegal in the State of Georgia. Types of alcohol containers would include beer, wine, and distilled spirits. If a beverage contains one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume, it is considered an alcohol container whether it is a can, bottle or other receptacle that is either open, has a broken seal, or the contents have been partially removed.

In order to encourage states to pass stronger drunk driving laws, the federal government passed legislation that would restrict a portion of the state’s highway funding if some type of open container law was not passed. As a result, a new wave of open container laws went into effect all over the country.

In order for a state to be in compliance with the federal definition of an open container violation, they must prohibit any open container of alcohol in a vehicle as well as the consumption of any alcohol beverage within a vehicle. The state must also make it illegal for the passenger area of a motor vehicle to have any open alcohol container, including the glove compartment, when it is located on a public highway or right-of-way. For vehicles that don’t have trunks, an open alcohol container can be permitted behind the last upright seat or in an area not normally occupied by a driver or passengers.

Consequences of an Open Container Violation

Possessing an open container in Georgia also adds 2 points to your driver’s license. Remember that 15 points within a 24 month period results in a license suspension. The driver is also subject to a fine. Alone, an open container violation may not be something that will turn your life upside down, but often times driving with an open container goes hand in hand with drinking and driving or drunk driving. The charges for these violations can be quite serious, affecting lives for the long-term.

Defending a Violation

At Kohn & Yager, our lawyers are experienced with defending clients accused of open alcohol container violations. We take the time to learn the facts surrounding your case and we’ll put together your best defense possible. Whether negotiating with the prosecution for a lesser charge or having the charge against you dropped, we can help.