Whether enjoying a can of beer at a tailgate or having a few drinks at a friend's house, it's easy to find yourself in a position where you need to take an open bottle of alcohol home with you. It's important to be careful about how you transport alcohol that has been opened, though. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious charge in Washington state and carries steep penalties on its own. When you are found to be in possession of an open container of alcohol at the time of your DUI arrest, the repercussions upon conviction are even more severe. If you're facing such a charge, it's important to equip yourself with a DUI defense attorney who has experience in handling these cases.
Driving with an Open Container of Alcohol in Washington State
Washington law prohibits a person from engaging in certain activities while driving. A person can receive a traffic violation for:
- Drinking an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle when the vehicle is on a highway; and
- Having a bottle, can, or other container of alcohol if the container has been open or a seal has been broken.
This does not mean that a person can never carry a bottle of alcohol that has been opened; a person can transport alcohol in the trunk of the vehicle or in some other area that is not occupied by passengers if the car has no trunk. Stashing your bottle in a glove box or center console will not suffice, though; these areas have been deemed to be within an area occupied by a driver and other passengers.
Penalties for DUI with Open Container in Washington
If you are facing a charge of DUI with an open container, you are subject to all of the penalties that accompany a charge of driving under the influence, including a suspension of your license, hefty fines, and even jail time. In addition to these punishments, however, you will face a separate penalty for having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest. Driving with an open container is a traffic infraction rather than a criminal charge, but should not be taken lightly; being caught with an open container can lead to substantial fines and, in some circumstances, an additional suspension period of your license.
Facing a DUI Involving Open Container in Washington? We're Here to Help
If you've been charged with DUI involving an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, it's best to put your case in the hands of an experienced DUI defense attorney. Penalties for conviction of DUI can be severe on their own, and an additional infraction for open container only makes matters worse. Don't try to fight your DUI charge on your own; Steve Karimi is dedicated to helping you fight your charge to the fullest extent. Don't wait until it is too late to secure the quality legal representation you need and deserve--to speak with a member of our legal team about your charge, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (206) 621-8777 today.