Most people know that you can't drink and drive legally. What might surprise some people is that drinking and driving isn't the only time that you can get into legal trouble for having an open container of alcohol. Open container laws are laws that govern the legality of having open containers of alcohol in any location other than in a home or building. Our Virginia readers might be interested in learning more about open container laws.
What is an open container law?
Simply put, an open container law means that you can't have a container of alcohol open in public. In order to be charged with an open container violation in Virginia, the manufacturer's seal on the bottle or container has to be broken.
What do open containers have to do with drunk driving?
You can be charged with an open container violation if you are driving a vehicle that has an open container in it. Per state law, any open container in the passenger area of the vehicle isn't allowed. If you are driving and exhibit any signs of having consumed alcohol, you can face criminal charges.
What kind of charge is an open container?
A violation of the open container law is a Class 4 misdemeanor. This means that you can face a fine of up to $250 for simply having an open container in your car. Of course, if you are found to be driving while intoxicated, you can also face other charges that would have additional fines, possible time in jail and other consequences. If that happens, you need to ensure you have suitable legal counsel.
Source: FindLaw, "Open Container Law" Nov. 22, 2014