Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car in Florida?

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car in Florida?

Everyone knows that drinking and driving is very illegal, but some situations are less cut and dry. For example, many people wonder if it is legal to drink alcohol as a passenger in a vehicle. After all, since passengers are not operating the vehicle, it is not posing the same level of risk as the driver drinking.

The following guide can help you better understand what the law says about drinking alcohol in a car if you are a passenger in Florida, and how a lawyer can help if you are facing penalties.

Is It Legal for Car Passengers to Drink Alcohol in Florida?

Per open container laws, passengers cannot drink alcohol in a car in Florida. This means it is illegal to have a readily accessible open container of alcohol that the driver or any passenger can drink. Basically, the law applies to any alcoholic container or beverage container with a broken seal that is available for consumption.

Open container laws cover any public road and adjacent areas such as sidewalks, ditches, and alleyways.

When transporting previously opened containers of alcohol, they must be resealed and safely stored in a locked glove compartment or the trunk. Vehicles without a trunk can store resealed containers behind the last seat in the vehicle.

The only place you can drink alcohol while sitting in a car is on private property, but it is important to ensure that the vehicle is on private property, and not on any adjacent public roadways or access points. When in doubt, do not do your drinking inside a vehicle.

What Are Florida’s Open Container Laws?

Florida is an open container law state, which means it is illegal to carry or consume any open containers of alcohol in public, with very few exceptions. Florida statute 316.1936 is very clear that it is unlawful to possess or consume any alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle, or as a passenger in a vehicle.

Exceptions to open container laws can only occur in certain situations, such as city councils passing laws or ordinances permitting open containers in areas such as entertainment districts or during public festivals. But even in these cases, it will always be illegal to carry or consume alcohol as a passenger in a vehicle.

Penalties for Violating Open Container Laws in Florida

Although driving under the influence (DUI) is a much more serious offense, violating open container laws as a passenger still comes with penalties. Passengers can be charged with a non-moving traffic violation. Penalties include, but are not limited to:

  • A $75 fine on the first offense
  • A $150 on the second offense
  • A fine of $450 on the third offense
  • Additional penalties, including community service, could be instated if there was an accident that results in property damage, injury, or death.

Additionally, passengers can be exposed to legal liability if they have an open container in a car during an accident that causes property damage, injury, or death.

How an Attorney Can Help Your Case

Being cited or arrested for a violation of the law is not the same as a conviction. Police and state servants are subject to strict rules and regulations to ensure they are observing the rights of the people they are interacting with.

If you have been charged with violating Florida’s open container law as a passenger or are facing legal liability after an accident, it is important to seek legal representation. An attorney can perform a thorough investigation into the facts of your case to ensure that your rights are being upheld. Circumstances that could alter the outcome of an open container violation include:

  • An illegal or questionable traffic stop
  • Contradictory eyewitness or video evidence
  • Improperly following protocol for citations
  • Misidentifying containers or substances

An attorney can ensure you are being treated fairly under the law if you have been charged with an open container violation and limit your legal and financial exposure.

Reach Out to the Experienced Team at Clark Hartpence Law Today

The attorneys at Clark Hartpence Law are trained in providing the best legal advice and representation for a wide range of legal cases. If you have been cited for a violation of open container or vehicle-related restrictions in Florida, we can help. Contact us today for a free initial consultation if you need an attorney to help you dismiss a citation.

Call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.