Open Container

Attorney for Open Container Charge in Palm Beach County and Broward County South Florida

Florida Statute § 316.1936(2)(a) prohibits a person from possessing an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consuming an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle in the State of Florida. This law also prohibits a passenger in the front seat or back seat from possessing an open container or consuming alcohol while in a vehicle being operated.

The term "motor vehicles" includes cars, trucks, and most recreational vehicles. Additionally, many city and counties have passed ordinance violations that involved more serious penalties and collateral consequences. One of the most common defenses in these cases is that the person cited with open container was not actually in possession of the container. For instance, if the container is in a locked glove compartment, locked trunk, or other locked area of the vehicle or is otherwise not in the person's physical control. It is also a defense to the charge if the container is empty.

If you received an open container citation in Palm Beach County or Broward County, then contact an experienced lawyer at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. to discuss your best defense. Although an open container violation is a civil offense under Section  § 316.1936(2)(a), it is still important to avoid a conviction. This charge is commonly paired with a DUI offense, which also carries serious penalties.

Charged with an Open Alcohol Container in Palm Beach County

Call the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A., "The Traffic Stop," at (561) 515-5834. We represent clients throughout Broward County and Palm Beach County, including the South Regional Courthouse in Hollywood and the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale in addition to the South County Traffic Court in Delray Beach and the Main Courthouse in West Palm Beach.


Info on Open Container Charges


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Penalties for Possessing an Open Alcoholic Beverage Container in a Vehicle

An open container citation given to the operator of the vehicle is a noncriminal or civil moving traffic violation. Also, if the passenger of the vehicle received the citation is a nonmoving traffic violation. Many city or county municipality may adopt an ordinance that imposes more stringent restrictions or harsher penalties than state law. § 316.1936(6), Fla. Stat.


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Definitions Under the Open Container Statute

The term “open container” is defined as any container of alcoholic beverage which is immediately capable of being consumed from, or the seal of which has been broken. § 316.1936(1)(a), Fla. Stat. The term "while in a vehicle being operated" could, under certain circumstances, include a vehicle that is parked or stopped within a road.

Florida's open container statute does not apply to vehicles designed, maintained, and used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation. See § 316.1936(2)(b). Such vehicles would include a limousine or party bus. The statute also provides an exemption for a motor home. Id.

The term "road" is defined as a way open to travel by the public, including, but not limited to, a street, highway, or alley. A road would include associated sidewalks, the roadbed, and the right-of-way. The term road also includes any adjacent culverts, drains, sluices, ditches, water storage areas, embankments, slopes, retaining walls, bridges, tunnels, and viaducts necessary for the maintenance of travel and all ferries used in connection with the road. See § 316.1936(1)(b), Fla. Stat.


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Call Our Fort Lauderdale Attorneys to Fight Open Container Citations 

If you were cited with the possession of an open container or consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A., "The Traffic Stop." We represent both the driver and the passenger cited for possession of an open container under both state law, a city ordinance, or a county ordinance.

We have the experience and knowledge to confidently defend those across Palm Beach County and Broward County who have been charged with carrying an open alcohol container. To address you concerns and ease your mind, call us at (561) 515-5834 and schedule your consultation appointment with our attorneys.

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  • ...A long weekend vacation in Palm Beach resulted in the potential for serious consequences that could have set me back in unimaginative ways. M+B was a truly incredible legal advocate and was always accessible within minutes to answer questions and discuss the progress of the case within the system - truly remarkable. I could not have retained better legal representation in my case in Palm Beach County.

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  • I was facing hard prison time and punishment. [Larry] did everything to pull strings and get me into rehab. After meeting with many therapists I finally got one to diagnose me successfully with Bipolar. Thanks to Larry I have been sober since 6/19/09. My health is great and my family life is amazing. It's because he saw something in me and my family that I wasn't just an alcoholic there was something that told me it was something else.

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    A.L.
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