Florida exudes a fun-in-the-sun vibe at almost every turn, beckoning people to come to visit or even live in paradise and all that entails. As such, enjoying some alcoholic beverages is often part of the equation. However, open container laws prevent individuals from consuming alcohol in vehicles, even if they are not driving. However, what is less clear is whether or not violating open container laws in Florida also means being charged with driving under the influence.
Understanding Florida’s Open Container Laws
Florida law makes it unlawful to possess an open container of any alcoholic beverage in a vehicle. An open container is defined as any beverage capable of being consumed immediately or an alcoholic beverage with a broken seal. The law applies to those operating motor vehicles in Florida and to those who are passengers in a motor vehicle.
Open container laws are specific to those sitting in or on a motor vehicle parked or stopped within a road traveled by the public. Depending on the circumstances, it is considered a noncriminal, nonmoving traffic violation penalized by a fine between $73 and $90. Passengers with alcoholic beverages in a non-moving vehicle may also be fined. However, the driver can still be ticketed even if the alcoholic beverage in question belonged to the passenger.
DUIs and Open Container Situations in Florida
You may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) versus a simple open container infraction if you are found to be intoxicated with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher while operating a motor vehicle. You can also be charged if you are stopped with the vehicle in park, but the keys are still in the ignition. This indicates to law enforcement that you had control of the car while intoxicated and still have control of it, even if you are not actively driving at the time.
You would not typically be charged with a DUI for an open container violation in Florida unless it is clear to law enforcement that you have also been drinking, are intoxicated, and have been operating the vehicle in question. DUI charges are much more serious than open container violations. Depending on your record on this issue, these charges may lead to jail time, hefty fines, and loss of driving privileges.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for DUIs or Open Container Violations
If you’ve been cited for an open container violation or charged with a DUI, you need the help of a reputable DUI lawyer to assist. Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel has been helping people with their DUI and open container issues for more than 30 years. He will handle your case using all the knowledge and skill developed over the span of his career.
Schedule a free consultation today by calling The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at (561) 622-5575. You can complete our online contact form to learn more.