What Happens if I am Charged with a Los Angeles Open Container in a Moving Vehicle?

California Vehicle code §23222 makes it illegal for any person to have in his or her possession , while operating a motor vehicle, any bottle, can or receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage. This includes any alcohol container that has the seal fully, or partially broken, and which has contents partially removed. The container may not be in a place that is easily accessible by the driver.

California follows the Federal rule and allows for an exception to open containers in a moving vehicle. If passengers are using a vehicle whose primary purpose is to provide transportation for compensation, then the passengers are permitted to have open containers of alcohol. Those vehicles that fall under this exception include, limousines, taxi cabs and buses. It is important to distinguish between public buses and those hired privately strictly for the purpose of transport. Drinking on a public bus with an open container is potentially a charge of being intoxicated while in public, or disturbing the peace.

If the open container is in a parked car, there may be an argument that the person had been driving with the container open, or a possible drinking in public offense. Oftentimes the potential consequences can be a misdemeanor depending on the specific facts of the case. It may also be added on as an additional offense to something more serious such as driving under the influence. In cases where driving with an open container is part of multple offenses, the penalty may be something more severe than the charge on its own.

An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can prepare a powerful defense to either have a Driving with an container charge dropped or reduced. If you are being charged with other violations, having a charge such as this one dismissed will help to greatly reduce the potential consequences you may face.