I've been writing recently about charges that frequently accompany DUI in Georgia. One of these associated charges is the offense of Open Container in Georgia. The Open Container charge can actually enhance punishment against you in your DUI Case. The Georgia Code defines open container 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).
Unlike some other possession laws, only the person actually possessing the open container will be charged with the open container offense. However, if there is no one else in the car, then the driver will be charged. It does not matter what type of alcohol it is, if the container is open and in a car, it is illegal in Georgia. To constitute an alcoholic beverage, the beverage only has to contain .5% alcohol by volume or more. As stated by the statute, alcohol is only illegal as long as the container is open, which could be inferred by content removal or if the seal is broken. The open container also has to be in the passenger area of your vehicle, which should not include a locked glove compartment or a trunk.
If you are convicted of open container possession, two points will be added to your license, and you can be fined up to $200. (Don't forget that 15 points within a 2-year period will result in the suspension of your license).
But the purpose of this post is to identify how DUI and Open Container go together in Georgia. Most DUI charges start with a routine traffic stop for a type of traffic violation. During this stop, the officer is given the opportunity to see and smell the inside of your vehicle, and if an open container is in the passenger area, his or her immediate reaction will be to look for anything that might hint at the fact that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even worse, an open container will most likely make your car smell like alcohol, which will also put the officer on high alert for DUI activity.
So now you are facing charges of the original traffic violation, DUI, and open container. It is important to note that the open container charge actually strengths the State's evidence against you. This gives the State a stronger case than the typical DUI breath or blood tests because now you've been charged with an offense that gives further evidence that you had been drinking as well as disregarding Georgia law.
Different localities have different enforcements of open container, but the majority of the time you're facing a citation and a fine. And if combined with a traffic violation and a DUI, it becomes even more crucial that you hire a Georgia DUI Attorney.
If you or a loved one have been charged with Open Container, a DUI in Georgia, or both you need to contact a Georgia DUI Lawyer today. These charges can be used as evidence against you to strengthen the possibilities of a DUI Conviction in Georgia.