In Arizona, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol within your vehicle, even if you are not drinking it while driving. If you are pulled over for any reason and there is an open container in your vehicle, you could be facing serious fines and penalties with a Class 2 misdemeanor for this infraction. It is important to know the law and what your options are if you are charged with an open container violation.
Often open container infractions are accompanied with a DUI charge. If you were drinking an alcoholic beverage while driving, you can be charged with both an open container and a DUI if you are suspected to be under the influence. However, you do not need to be drinking the beverage to be cited for an open container. Even if you have an empty bottle of beer, liquor or wine in your vehicle and are not intoxicated, you can still be charged with an open container.
According to Arizona law, an open container is any spirituous beverage where the seal has been broken and is in the passenger compartment of a vehicle on a public roadway. This does not include open containers left in the trunk or bed of a truck; the container must be accessible by the driver or passenger of the vehicle. It is important to note that if your passenger has an open container of alcohol in their possession, but you are driving, you can still be the one charged with an open container if they do not take responsibility.
In addition to having an open container in a vehicle, it is against the law for a person to drink alcohol in public. While under this set of circumstances, police officers generally issue a citation of public consumption, officers sometimes use this scenario to cite for open container.
Consequences of an Open Container Conviction
If you are found guilty of breaking the open container law in Arizona, you could be facing a $750 fine and up to four months in jail. This is a steep penalty, especially if you were not drinking at the time or the container belonged to someone else. Plus, you will have this conviction on your record, possibly affecting you in the future.
It is always beneficial to look at all the options before pleading guilty to a charge that you may be able to get reduced or dismissed with the help of an experienced attorney. Even if an attorney is unable to get a charge completely dismissed, we have methods to prevent clients from having criminal convictions. Either way, an attorney who is used to handling open container cases can assist you with achieving an outcome that would not result in the harsh penalties the open container law allows.
Arizona Open Container Attorney
At Matthew Lopez Law, we help our clients when they are facing a DUI, open container ticket or other alcohol-related charges. For those under 21, the fines and penalties can be even steeper in Arizona for open container and other alcohol-possession charges, so it is important to have a legal expert on your side. Contact us immediately if you are charged with an open container or any other serious alcohol-related offense to get the best legal advice for your situation.