How to avoid an Arizona DUI Charge from an Open Container

arizona duiDid you know you can get arrested for an alcohol-related offense without consuming any alcohol? Arizona law outlines the rules for open containers inside a vehicle in Arizona Revised Statute §4.251. Even if you aren’t drinking and driving, you could find yourself searching for an Arizona DUI attorney to help you avoid conviction.

States are urged to follow the federal standards set forth in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Most states follow these laws 100 percent. Arizona is such a state, which means open container laws are highly regulated.

No matter your blood alcohol content at the time if your traffic stop, if you’re in violation of the open container laws, you could face serious penalties. But an open container also might lead to a DUI if you have been drinking because it gives the officer reason to question your sobriety.

Defining Arizona’s open container law

Arizona law clearly defines what constitutes an open container. Although, there is not a definition for how much liquid must be in the container for it to qualify. This means that even a few drops of an alcoholic beverage can count as an open container under the law.

The law states the following:

“A. It is unlawful for any person to:

“1. Consume spirituous liquor while operating or while within the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle that is located on any public highway or right-of-way of a public highway in this state.

“2. Possess an open container of spirituous liquor within the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle that is located on any public highway or right-of-way of a public highway in this state.”

If you violate this law, you could face fines of up to $750 and be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor. Depending on the severity of the situation, this means that you could spend time in jail or on probation, which might show up on a background check for future employment.

What if the open container belongs to my passenger?

When you operate a motor vehicle, you’re in charge. This means that if a passenger has an open container, you can still be cited for their misbehavior. This is especially true if the open container is within reach while you are driving.

The law further clarifies what an open container is:

“2. ‘Open container’ means any bottle, can, jar, container dispensed pursuant to section 4-244, paragraph 32, subdivision (c) or other receptacle that contains spirituous liquor and that has been opened, has had its seal broken or the contents of which have been partially removed.”

If you’ve been drinking and are found with an open container in your vehicle, it gives law enforcement more reason to question you. It’s much riskier that you’ll get a DUI if you have been drinking and have an open container in the car with you.

It’s best to ensure that your passengers do not bring an open container into your vehicle because this will help you avoid such sticky situations. Serving as the designated driver for the night is a noble job, just be sure that your passengers are showing their gratitude by following the laws as your passenger.

How to avoid open container violations

In Arizona, it is permissible for you to have an open container in the trunk of your vehicle. This must be out of the reach of the driver and your passengers.

Additionally, in vehicles that have a more open back storage area, you can place the open container inside of a locked glove compartment. If there is no lock on your glove compartment or you have not secured that lock, this is not a suitable place for the open container during travel.

If you’re facing DUI or open container law violations, an Arizona DUI attorney can help. Be sure to share all details related to your case with your attorney so that you can make an informed decision about our next steps in your legal representation.

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