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What is the "open container law"?

A driver in Georgia may face penalties for driving with an open can, bottle or container that contains an alcoholic beverage. Georgia law defines an open container as a container with any amount of alcoholic beverage with a broken seal or with a portion of its contents removed. Both drivers and passengers are subject to this law whenever a car is on the road or on the shoulder of a road.

In the event that the driver is the only person in the car, he or she shall be deemed to be in possession of any open container in the vehicle. An exception to the law exists for those who transport people for compensation or for those driving a mobile home. The penalty for having an open container in a vehicle is a fine that will not exceed $200.

In Georgia, it is possible to face jail time, a fine and a license suspension or revocation. Multiple offenders may face mandatory minimum jail sentences as well as being labeled as habitual offenders. For a second or subsequent offense, it may be necessary to pass a clinical evaluation before driving privileges are reinstated. After a third offense, the name and picture of the driver will be published in a local newspaper at the driver's expense.

The penalties for a DUI can be severe even for a first offense. However, it may be possible for a DUI defense attorney to negotiate a plea deal or help an individual earn an acquittal on a drunk driving or open container charge. This may be done by disputing the results of a blood or breath test or disputing any information in the police report generated for a specific case. None of the information provided in this article should be used as specific legal advice.

Source: Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety, "Georgia's Impaired Driving Laws & Penalties", October 17, 2014