Open Container Laws

Florida like most U.S. states has implemented open container state laws and local county ordinances to deter people from drinking and driving. If you possess an open container in your vehicle, you may be cited by law enforcement. That means you could have points added to your driving record and even face spiked insurance rates as a result. 

Fighting a traffic citation might seem out of your way, but getting your ticket dismissed could save you a lot of stress. Not to mention if you have a certain amount of points on your record your license will be suspended as a result. For these reasons and more, we highly suggest you hire an experienced traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible.

Defense Attorney Explains Florida’s Open Container Laws in West Palm Beach

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.

Call the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A., "The Traffic Stop," at (561) 557-8686. 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.

Overview of Open Container Laws in FL

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What is Florida’s Open Container in a Vehicle Laws?

Legislators have banned all open container of alcoholic beverages in cars as a way to protect the general public from drunk drivers. Florida Statutes Section 316.1936(2) state a person is found to be guilty violating open container laws if they do the following: 

  • Possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle in the state or while as a passenger in or on a vehicle being operated in the state; or
  • Possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while seated in or on a motor vehicle that was parked or stopped within a road

If the open container isn’t found in possession of anyone in the vehicle, glove compartment, locked trunk or other locked non-passenger area will be considered in possession of the vehicle’s owner and operator.

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County Ordinances for Open Containers in FL

State laws aren’t the only piece of legislation outlawing open containers in vehicles. Many counties have local ordinances that prohibit an open container of alcoholic beverages in an automobile. Broward County’s county ordinance section 3.3 outlaws the consumption of alcoholic beverages while riding or driving in a car as well as possessing an alcoholic drink by either the passenger or driver. 

The ordinance in Broward County stands and you can be cited even if the car is stopped completely. In Palm Beach County, the ordinance section 3.3 states you cannot carry an unsealed container of alcohol in a motor vehicle in a public or semipublic area. In addition, the ordinance states you cannot consume alcohol 500 feet away from a public or semipublic area. 

Martin County local ordinance section 5.7 establishes it’s unlawful to possess a container of alcohol, unless the seal is unbroken, to consume an alcoholic beverage in or on a motor vehicle that is being driven in public or a semipublic area.

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What Are the Penalties for Violating Open Container Laws in Florida?

When you violate open container laws you don’t face criminal penalties like that of a traffic offense. You will, however, face a moving violation if you are found guilty of violating open container laws. If you admit guilt to violating open container laws, then DHSMV will add 3 points to your driving record.

These points will remain on your record for 36 months or 3 years and if you accumulate 12 or more within a year, then your license will be revoked for six months. Many people admit guilt and pay their citation, but don’t understand the consequences that has on their insurance premiums. Many insurers will spike up rates after a policyholder is given a ticket or has had their license suspended by having numerous tickets.

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Additional Resources 

Open Container Laws in FL – Visit the official website for the Florida Statutes to learn more about open container laws regarding motor vehicles. Access the site to learn how the court defines an open container, the elements of the infraction and exceptions to the violation.

Palm Beach County Open Container Ordinance – Visit the official website for the Palm Beach County Ordinances to learn more about their open container section. Access the site to learn their open container laws, exceptions and the penalties related to it.

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Traffic Ticket Lawyer for Open Container Laws in Palm Beach County, FL

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) 557-8686 and schedule your consultation appointment with our attorneys

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