Understanding Georgia Open Container Laws for New Year's Eve

Posted by Richard Lawson | Dec 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

New Year's Eve is a time of many parties and lots of celebrating. For many, this time of celebration includes the consumption of alcohol. When a person drives while intoxicated by alcohol, he or she is at risk of a Georgia DUI charge. Not only this, but if a person consumes alcohol while in the vehicle, or any of the passengers do, there is a risk of being cited for an "open container" as well.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with a Georgia DUI or with an open container charge, an experienced Georgia DUI defense attorney will defend your case and protect your rights. You do not have to face this process alone.

Open Container Charges in Georgia

In the State of Georgia, it is illegal to consume or possess an open alcoholic beverage while in any vehicle on a public highway or shoulder of a public highway.

An "alcoholic beverage" means:

(A) Beer, ale, porter, stout, and other similar fermented beverages, including sake or similar products, of any name or description containing one-half of 1 percent or more of alcohol by volume, brewed or produced from malt, wholly or in part, or from any substitute therefor;
(B) Wine of not less than one-half of 1 percent of alcohol by volume; or
(C) Distilled spirits which is that substance known as ethyl alcohol, ethanol, or spirits of wine in any form, including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever source or by whatever process produced.

During this holiday season, you may be transporting open alcoholic beverage containers, or your passengers may think it is OK to have a drink while you are driving. It is against the law to allow this.

Who Gets Charged?

Only a person who consumes the alcoholic beverage or possesses the open alcoholic beverage can be charged with a violation of this law. However, if the driver of the motor vehicle is alone in the car, and the open container is in a "passenger area" he or she will be deemed to be in possession of the beverage.

A "passenger area" means:

the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while a motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in his or her seating position; provided, however, that such term does not include any locked glove compartment or, in a passenger car not equipped with a trunk, any area behind the rearmost upright seat or not normally occupied by the driver or passengers.

Can I Legally Transport Open Alcohol in My Car?

Yes. The best place for an open bottle in a car is the trunk of your car. If you do not have a trunk, you should place the container in a locked glove compartment or the area behind the rearmost upright seat or any area not normally occupied by the driver or passengers.

Do not simply place an open alcohol bottle on the "backseat." That is a "passenger area" and you can be charged even if you never intend to drink while driving.

Consult a Georgia DUI Attorney

Georgia's open container law can be used to impose additional penalties to a Georgia DUI charge. If you have been charged with DUI or open container, an experienced Georgia DUI attorney is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

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