Open container laws are strictly enforced in the state of Florida.  It is important to retain a criminal defense lawyer to represent you and inform you of your rights if you have been charged with a violation of the open container law under Florida statute §316.1936.  An individual who violates Florida’s open container laws may be found guilty of a noncriminal moving traffic violation, which is not punishable by incarceration.  However, the operator of the vehicle may obtain a traffic citation that may result in points against his/her driver’s license.  Anyone in Miami charged with possession of alcoholic beverages in a vehicle should seek immediate counsel with a Miami criminal defense attorney.  At Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. we frequently defend clients that have been charged with violating of Florida’s open container laws and know what it takes to get your case dismissed.  As former prosecutors, Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. attorneys have the experience required to successfully defend allegations of possession of an open alcoholic beverage in a vehicle and will work hard to defend your case.

Open Container Lawyer

Open container is described under Florida Statute 316.1936 (1)(a) as “any container of alcoholic beverage which is immediately capable of being consumed from, or the seal of which has been broken.”  It is a violation of Florida law for anyone to possess an open container of alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle.  It is also unlawful to consume alcoholic beverages inside your vehicle while the vehicle is parked or stopped on street, highway, or alley.  It is important to note that an open container may be found to be in possession of the driver of the vehicle if the open container is not in possession of a passenger in the vehicle and is not found in the following areas: locked in the glove compartment, locked trunk, or any other sort of locked non passenger area of the vehicle.  If the open container is within the physical control of the passenger of a vehicle, then the open container will likely be found to be in possession of the passenger.

Florida Statute 316.1936 (6) states that “any operator of a vehicle who violates this section is guilty of noncriminal moving violation . . . a passenger of a vehicle who violates this section is guilty of a nonmoving traffic violation . . .”  The difference between a moving and a non-moving violation is that a moving violation will generally assess points against the driver license while a non-moving violation will not.  An example of a moving violation can be failing to yield at a stop sign, or carelessly driving.  An example of a non-moving violation can be failing to wear a seat-belt, or parking improperly.  These violations or infractions are not punishable by incarceration and there is normally no right to trial by jury or to a court appointed counsel in these cases.

Exceptions to the Open Container Law

Under Florida Statute 319.1936(5) open container law’s do not apply to: (1) passengers of a vehicle that is being operated under a contract to provide transportations for passengers and the driver of such vehicle has a valid commercial license; (2) a passenger of a bus in which the driver holds a valid commercial drivers license; and (3) “a passenger of a self-contained motor home which is in excess of 21 feet in length.”

Notably, a county or a municipality may implement an ordinance that imposes a more severe restriction on the possession of an open container in a vehicle.  Therefore, it is important to seek qualified legal counsel that can provide you or a family member with the experienced legal representation that is required to attack an open container allegation.

If you are charged with a civil infraction traffic ticket your options may be to either to (1) pay the civil penalty; (2) attend a defensive driving course; (3) request a court hearing; or (4) obtain a Miami criminal defense attorney to take care of all the allegations against you.  Needless to say, obtaining a Miami criminal defense attorney may be your best option as open container infractions can be a serious charge that requires serious representation.

As former Miami Dade State Attorneys, Christopher Pagan, Esq. and Julian Stroleny, Esq., have defended numerous cases in Miami Dade County, from DUIs to violent homicides.  An individual who fails to satisfy their citation(s) by selecting one of the options listed above within 30 days of the date of issuance may be subject to a suspension of their driver’s license and will likely be required to make late payment fees.  Avoid the hassle and impact that an open container infraction can have in your future and obtain an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney today.  Contact our office today at (305) 615-1285 for a free consultation and see what Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. can do for you.