Many people in Atlanta think that just because they were NOT drinking and their passengers were, that they can’t be arrested for “Open Container”. If your passenger was drinking, and got out of your vehicle at any point, and left the beer bottle half full in your car. Yep, you sure can be arrested.
If you are convicted of possessing an open container, two points will be added to your Georgia driver’s license. If you accumulate 15 or more points in 24 months, your license will be suspended for one year. You will also be subject to a fine up to $200.
If you are under the age of 21 and charged with possessing an open container while operating a motor vehicle, you could face a license suspension for a period of 120 days with no limited-use driving permit. If you were simply a passenger in the vehicle, but were in possession of an open container, you could still face a Minor in Possession charge in addition to an open container violation.
The law does not apply to any passenger in the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation or in the living quarters of a motor vehicle or house trailer. This means that passengers in a taxi cab, limousine, or bus are free to consume alcohol inside the vehicle.
The law makes an exception for unfinished bottles of wine purchased at a restaurant that have been resealed. O.C.G.A. § 3‑6‑4 provides that “any restaurant which is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises may permit a patron to remove one unsealed bottle of wine per patron for consumption off premises, if the patron has purchased a meal and consumed a portion of the bottle of wine which has been purchased on the premises with such meal on the restaurant’s premises.
A partially consumed bottle of wine that is to be removed from the premises must be securely resealed by the licensee or its employees before removal from the premises. The partially consumed bottle of wine shall be placed in a bag or other container that is secured in such a manner that it is visibly apparent if the container has been subsequently opened or tampered with, and a dated receipt for the bottle of wine and meal shall be provided by the licensee and attached to the container. If transported in a motor vehicle, the container with the resealed bottle of wine shall be placed in a locked glove compartment, a locked trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk.”
The State of Georgia is one of only seven states that do not have a law prohibiting the possession of an open container in a public place. However, local jurisdictions have passed ordinances prohibiting open containers of alcohol in public. A notable exception is the historic district of downtown Savannah. Savannah allows the possession and consumption of an alcoholic beverage on the street if it is in an open plastic cup of not more than 16 ounces. The city of Alpharetta passed an ordinance allowing patrons to walk out of businesses with a single drink in hand within its downtown district.
Only plastic cups less than 16 ounces are allowed. Cans, bottles, and glasses are prohibited. The city of Carrollton has also approved legislation as recently as 2012 allowing open containers downtown as long as the beverage was bought at a business in the district. The City Manager Casey Coleman told the Daily Report the rule would not apply to alcohol bought outside the district because “this is not Savannah.”
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a “Atlanta Open Container” Charge, then you are going to need a Atlanta DUI Lawyer. Contact the Howard Law Group ASAP so we can defend your rights.