I see a lot of Georgia DUI cases that include charges of Open Container in Georgia. It's a frequent add-on in DUI arrests. This is because the law behind it is so broad and inclusive.
The Georgia Code defines the open container offense in Georgia as:
“The consumption or possession of open alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of any vehicle while on a public highway or shoulder of a public highway.” O.C.G.A. §40-6-253.
The law is broad because an alcoholic beverage in Georgia is anything that contains .5% alcohol by volume or more. Moreover, the term “open” includes whether content has been removed or if there's just a broken seal.
Possession of an open container is unlike other possession offenses in Georgia such as Georgia possession of marijuana in Georgia. This is because only the person actually possessing the open container will be charged with the open container offense. However, this means that if there are no other passengers in the car, then the driver will be charged.
Bottomline - it does not matter what type of alcohol it is, if the container is open and in a car, it is illegal in Georgia.
Open container charges exacerbate Georgia DUI Penalties. If you are convicted of open container possession, two points are added to your license, and you can be fined up to $200. Mind you - 15 points within a 2-year period will result in Georgia driver’s license suspension. So now, the driver is now facing charges of the original traffic violation, DUI, and open container.
Worse than that, the open container charge actually strengthens the State's evidence against you. This particular charge gives the prosecution a stronger case than even chemical test results because it is an offense that gives further evidence that you had been drinking as well as disregarding laws concerning behavior on Georgia roadways.
Different Georgia jurisdictions have various forms of enforcement of open container, but most of the time you're facing a citation and a fine. And if combined with a traffic violation and a DUI, the penalties can be extremely harsh.
An open container charge can be used as evidence against you to strengthen the possibilities of a DUI Conviction in Georgia. Only attorneys who specialize in Georgia DUI Defense know how to properly defend a DUI case. This is not for the general practitioner. We will be able to investigate the specifics of your case and come up with the best defense plan. Contact us today.