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Florida Open Container Laws


Did you know that you could get a citation in Florida for opening a beer can in your car, even if you have not taken the first sip?  Did you know that it is illegal for Uber and Lyft passengers to drink while the ride is in progress?  Florida’s laws against possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage are quite strict.  Open container violations are not exactly crimes; having an empty beer can on the passenger seat of your car is not a criminal misdemeanor, in the way that having an empty crack pipe on the passenger seat of your car is.  Rather, possession of an open container is a summary offense, like traffic violations, and like possession of a small quantity of cannabis in local jurisdictions that have decriminalized cannabis.  When a police officer sees an open container in your vehicle, though, it can make a traffic stop go from bad to worse.  Every detail counts in criminal cases, and if the police officers were out to get you before the open beer can was even in their field of vision, a West Palm Beach searches and seizures lawyer can help.

Beer Cans in the Trunk, Wine Bottles in a Doggie Bag, Party Limousines, and Other Technicalities

Florida law prohibits drivers and passengers from possessing open containers of alcoholic beverages in the passenger compartments of motor vehicles.  In other words, it is fine if you are driving to a party with a half-empty bottle of vodka in the trunk of your car, as long as it is in the trunk.  You can even have a half-empty travel-sized bottle of Kahlua in the glove compartment of your car, as long as the glove compartment stays closed for the duration of the trip.  You can even get a citation for drinking alcohol in a parked car, which is why that Dan Fogelberg song they play on the radio every Christmas where the narrator and his high school sweetheart buy a six pack of beer from the liquor store and drink it in her car would have ended differently if it had happened in Florida.

These are some instances where it is legal to have an open container in your car.  For example, passengers can drink while riding in a private vehicle where the driver holds, and must hold, a commercial driver’s license.  In other words, it is fine for passengers in a stretch limo to drink alcohol, and also on a charter bus, but not in a rideshare car, since rideshare drivers are not required to have a commercial driver’s license, and most do not have them.  Likewise, it is acceptable to transport a re-corked bottle of wine in the passenger compartment, provided that it stays re-corked throughout the trip.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

A Palm Beach County criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing charges after a police officer used flimsy excuses to search your vehicle.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach Florida to discuss your case. Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.



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