WHAT ARE THE EXCEPTIONS TO FLORIDA’S “OPEN CONTAINER” LAWS?
By Jonathan Blecher on April 26, 2023
When it comes to laws regarding alcohol and driving, most Floridians have a clear understanding of what is deemed illegal – driving under the influence of alcohol. But what about unclear notions like driving with an alcoholic beverage in your car? Can this land you in trouble?
Florida, like the other states, has laws that regulate the transportation and/or consumption of alcohol in motor vehicles. These are known as the “Open Container” laws. Understanding how Florida’s “Open Container” laws work can keep you out of trouble with the law.
SO WHAT ARE FLORIDA’S “OPEN CONTAINER” LAWS?
Basically, open container laws limit or prohibit the possession and/or consumption of alcohol in public places. These laws also apply to the possession of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Per Florida “Open Container” laws, it is illegal to possess or consume alcohol in an open container if you are driving a vehicle, are a passenger in a moving vehicle or are sitting in a vehicle that is stopped or parked within a road.
“Open container” generally refers to cans, flasks or any container that holds alcohol that’s seal has been broken, has its cap taken off or simply makes alcohol readily accessible. Penalties for a violation of these laws can include fines as well as an addition of points to your driving record.
EXCEPTIONS TO FLORIDA’S “OPEN CONTAINER” LAWS
Florida’s “Open Container” laws apply to both drivers and their passengers. There are a few exceptions, however. These include:
- When the vehicle in question is a taxi – A taxi driver may have no control over their client’s decision to drink while in their vehicle. As long as you are not consuming alcohol alongside your passenger, you may not be in trouble.
- If the open container in question has no traces of alcohol – you may not be in trouble if you are caught transporting empty bottles of beer.
PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS
Open container violations may not be a serious offense. However, a conviction can still impact various aspects of your life. Learning more about Florida’s “Open Container” laws can help you come up with an effective defense if you are charged with a violation.