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How do New York “Open Container” laws work?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2023 | DWI

Most people understand that driving under the influence (DUI) is both reckless and dangerous. They also understand that a conviction for drunk driving can lead to serious legal and personal consequences. But are you aware that simply having alcohol in your vehicle can lead to problems?

New York’s “Open Container” law regulates the consumption of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles. Per this law, you may not have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle even when the vehicle in question is parked.

Understanding New York’s “Open Container” law

Typically, an “open container” is defined as any alcoholic beverage that has been opened, has had its seal removed or has some content removed. Containers may include bottles, cups, cans, flasks and any other container that holds alcohol. The primary goal of the “Open Container” law is to discourage public intoxication and dissuade motorists from drunk driving.

A violation of the “Open Container” law may not be a criminal offense per se. However, it still carries serious consequences. A conviction may lead to fines as well as points on your record. And if your chemical test result comes back positive, the police may assume that you have been drinking and use the alcohol they retrieve from your vehicle as evidence when recommending to a prosecutor that you should face impaired driving charges.

Exceptions to “Open Container” laws

There are instances when having an open container in your vehicle may not land you in trouble. First, the container in question must have alcohol during the stop. In other words, you may not be charged for transporting empty bottles of beer in your car. Secondly, this law does not apply to passengers in a commercial vehicle like a taxi or Uber.

Safeguarding your rights

If you are charged with an alcohol-related offense in New York, you need to understand and explore your legal options. Learning more about New York’s DUI laws while seeking legal guidance can help you safeguard your rights while navigating an alleged “Open Container” violation.