People often think of DUIs and bar fights as the kind of legal trouble drinking can cause. However, drinking alcohol isn’t the only way people can face alcohol-related charges. In fact, just having a bottle of beer in your possession can end in a criminal arrest due to open container laws.
What Constitutes an Open Container?
State statutes define an “open container” as any alcoholic container with a seal broken or that has been opened. If a container is opened, but someone places a top back onto it, the vessel is still considered open if it can never be fully closed or sealed again. Therefore, if a bottle of beer is opened, but someone puts the cap back on the bottle, it is still technically open in the eyes of the law.
Examples of open containers include:
- An uncorked bottle of wine
- A can of beer/wine with an open tab
- A liquor bottle with a broken seal/ unscrewed cap
- A plastic cup (such as a SOLO cup) filled with alcohol
Where Is an Open Container Illegal?
An open container is illegal to have in a vehicle and out in public spaces. In regards to open containers in vehicles, a driver cannot use ignorance as a defense to an open container charge: even if the container is in the back seat or a passenger’s hands. If a driver is charged with an open container violation, he or she could face fines and up to 6 months of jail time. Additionally, prior convictions can increase the penalties of this offense.
In regards to carrying an open container in public, the circumstances and location of the offense will impact the potential charges. In some cases, carrying an open container in Nevada is perfectly legal (like on the strip of Las Vegas). In other cases, carrying an open container can result in a criminal charge. Therefore, it is crucial you identify where and when carrying an open container is legal before you go out.
Protecting Your Rights
If you or someone you love has been charged for carrying an open container, you have the right to defend your case. Contact the Law Offices of Kenneth Stover for experienced legal representation in all alcohol-related matters.
Call (775) 502-1575 now for a free consultation concerning your case!