Georgia’s Open Container Laws

Arrested For Driving With An Open Container In Georgia?

The United States Federal Government has made a recent push to promote new open container laws at the state level. To achieve their goal, a state’s receiving certain transportation funds from the federal government is contingent upon the state implementing open container laws. As a result, Georgia has recently introduced and changed several laws pertaining to open containers in motor vehicles. Being charged with an open container violation can have lasting financial and personal impacts and potentially aggravate any other pending criminal charge that you may have. If you have been charged with an open container violation, you may be facing large fines, increased automobile insurance costs, driver’s license suspension, and even imprisonment. To ensure that you are protected from these significant penalties, you need to retain the aid of an accomplished attorney experienced in alcohol and automobile-related offenses.

The DUI attorneys at the Law Office of Carter Pilgrim have the experience to successfully defend you from prosecution for open container violations in Atlanta, Gwinnett County, and Forsyth County. As a former prosecutor, Georgia Attorney Phil Pilgrim prosecuted more than 4,000 cases involving alcohol, granting him an uncontested understanding of the tactics and strategies utilized by Georgia police and prosecutors. Having this incredible understanding, Georgia Attorney Phil Pilgrim is able to outsmart and outplay those prosecuting you. Mr. Pilgrim could be the difference between gaining an acquittal and spending time behind bars. If you have been charged with an open container violation in Atlanta, Gwinnett County, or Forsyth County, please contact our offices today for a free consultation.

What is an Open Container Violation?

Under Georgia law, it is unlawful to consume an alcoholic beverage or possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a vehicle. To have committed an open container violation, the prosecutor must prove three things: that you had an alcoholic beverage; that the alcoholic beverage was in an open container; and, that the open container was in the passenger area of the vehicle.

What is Considered an Alcoholic Beverage?

Within the Georgia Code, “alcoholic beverage” includes beer and other similar fermented beverages containing 0.5 percent alcohol by volume and brewed from malt or any malt substitute, wine of 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, and any distilled spirits.

What is an Open Alcoholic Beverage Container?

An alcoholic beverage container is an “open alcoholic beverage container” when the container contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and the container is open or has a broken seal, or if the contents of the container are partially removed. However, bottles of wine which have been purchased at a restaurant licensed to sell alcoholic beverages to be consumed at the restaurant may be resealed pursuant to the Georgia Code and thus exempted from the definition of an open alcoholic beverage container.

The definition of an open alcoholic beverage container is far-reaching and should be strongly considered. Situations of having an open alcoholic beverage container as defined by the Georgia Code often arise out of innocence. An example is when an individual is receiving a ride home from a friend and has a bottle of spirits, such as whiskey, that has previously been open. Under the Georgia Code, this bottle of whiskey, even when it has not been consumed by the passenger in the vehicle, constitutes an open alcoholic beverage container.

What is Within the Passenger Area?

The “passenger area” of a vehicle is the area of the vehicle designed to seat the driver and passengers and is readily accessible by the driver and passengers. However, passenger area does not include a locked glove box, or in a vehicle without a trunk, the area behind the rearmost upright seat or any other area not normally occupied by the driver or passengers. Thus, it is unlawful to possess an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of the vehicle, but not in areas deemed not suited for personal use.

What are the Consequences for an Open Container Violation?

Being convicted of an open container violation carries long-lasting financial strain. The penalties for an open container violation include a fine of up to $200 and two points being added to the individual’s license. When considering the additional cost of insurance premiums due to the points on your license, a conviction for an open container violation can cost you thousands. Worse, if you accumulate too many points on your license, your license will be suspended which creates added financial hardship. Additionally, the conviction for an open container violation may be used by the prosecution in any other cases pending against you. Overall, the consequences for an open container violation are harsh and you will carry them with you for years to come. To protect your financial health and future, you need a lawyer who has substantial experience in alcohol-related defense cases and who understands the prosecution’s strategies and tactics.

Open Container Defense Lawyer in Atlanta, Gwinnett & Forsyth County

Georgia Attorney Phil Pilgrim has exceptional experience in criminal cases involving alcohol. As a prosecutor, Mr. Pilgrim prosecuted more than 4,000 cases in four years – more cases than most attorneys see in a lifetime. Since switching to defend the accused from an unbalanced judicial system he saw firsthand, Mr. Pilgrim has successfully defended hundreds of clients to ensure their future is not harmed by the legal system. Due to his tireless dedication, perseverance, and an exceptional skill set, Mr. Pilgrim is one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Georgia. Mr. Pilgrim understands the unique stress of being charged with a crime and is here to help. If you have been charged with an open container violation, please contact our office today for a free consultation.