While many people are aware that driving while intoxicated (DUI) is against the law in Georgia, they frequently fail to observe the restrictions on open containers. In order to address the concerns about alcohol’s role in car accidents during the past several years, Georgia has implemented a number of new rules.
If you happen to be in an area where open container laws are intact and are being charged with carrying an open container of a controlled substance, we would recommend getting in touch with a criminal lawyer who is familiar with Georgia law.
Everything You Need to Know About Georgia’s Open Container Law
Does Georgia Have an Open Container Law?
One of only a few states, Georgia, does not have a statute that forbids the use of an open container in a public setting. Open alcohol containers are not allowed in public, though, according to municipal laws. The Savannah downtown historic area is one example.
A bottle or other container that is open or has a broken seal with some of the contents gone is referred to as an open container in some municipal governments in Georgia. Open containers do not include ones that have been sealed again. In the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle that is on the road or the shoulder of a public highway, no one should consume alcohol or have open alcohol beverages.
Only the individual in possession of the alcohol will face charges. If no passengers are present, just the driver will be charged. According to O.C.G.A. 40-6-253, if the seal has been broken and some of the contents have been taken, the container is considered to be open. Although it is not specified how much must be taken away, courts have determined that even a modest quantity will be enough to support a charge.
What are the Penalties for an Open Container Charge?
In Georgia, anybody found guilty of having an open container will have committed a misdemeanor. A fee of up to $200 will serve as the penalty. Additionally, your Georgia driver’s license will receive two points. Even though the punishment appears to be modest, it’s still crucial to retain a Georgia open container attorney. A person above the age of 21 will have their license suspended for a year if they accrue fifteen or more points in the span of 24 months.
If you are under 21 and are charged with having an open container while driving, your license may be suspended for 120 days. Additionally, you won’t be qualified for a limited-use driving license. In Georgia, if you were the passenger accused of having an open container, you may also be prosecuted for having a juvenile in the vehicle as well.
Open-container charges are sometimes prosecuted alongside additional crimes like DUI. It is preferable to let a criminal defense attorney in Georgia handle all of the charges against you and attempt to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution.
Exceptions Under Georgia’s Open Container Laws
The legislation exempts passengers in specific types of cars. In the passenger area of a motor vehicle that is intended and used to carry people for a fee as well as in the living space of a mobile home or house trailer, a passenger may lawfully possess an open container of alcohol.
Another exception is an unfinished wine bottle. Customers who have ordered a meal and finished part of a bottle of wine at a restaurant with an alcohol license are allowed to take the remaining wine home. The restaurant must safely reseal the bottle, put it in a receptacle that is obvious if it has been later opened, and tape on a receipt for the purchase of the wine in order for one partially consumed bottle of wine to be transported lawfully in a motor vehicle. In accordance with this exemption, the person transporting the wine must also store it in a secured glove compartment, lockable trunk, or, if there is no trunk, in the space behind the final upright seat.
Malt beverages are likewise excluded from the rule. Malt drinks made in private homes may be carried in a car as long as they are kept in a secured glove box or trunk and are packaged tightly in a container clearly marked with the producer’s name and address.
Knowing the local laws and regulations is the first step in abiding by local laws. Georgia’s open container policy could appear pretty lax or less severe than you might expect. However, it is still crucial to use caution and be informed of any applicable laws. You may behave securely, ethically, and legally by using this knowledge.