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Open Container in a Vehicle as a Civil Infraction

Many states consider possession of alcoholic beverages in the vehicle a criminal offence. In Florida, it is only considered a civil infraction under state law.

  • As per Section 316.1936 of Florida statutes 2021, Title XXIII, it is unlawful to possess an open container of alcoholic beverages in a vehicle.

Here, an open container means any alcoholic beverage container which is capable of being consumed, i.e. its seal is broken.

Also, the law of Florida does not prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages on a vessel. But operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol is an offence under Florida law. Boating under the influence in Florida (BUI), i.e. if the operator of the vessel has Blood alcohol content above 0.08, is an offence.

Civil Infraction

A civil infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, the punishment for this is fine.

In Florida, for drivers of vehicles who possess open containers of alcoholic beverages, their offence is a moving violation. It imposes a fine of $73 to $90, or if they pay the ticket, then points will be valued from their driver’s license.

The statute makes a difference between driver and passenger of the vehicle. If the passenger of the vehicle is in possession of alcoholic beverages, then their offence is a non-moving violation, and it imposes a fine of $60.

Exception-

  • Section 316.1936(3) of Florida statutes 2021, Title XXIII says that the open container in a vehicle shall not be considered in possession of the driver if it is in a locked trunk, locked glove compartment, or other non-passenger areas of the motor vehicle.
  • As per section 564.09 of Florida statutes 2021, Title XXXIV, a resealed bottle of wine is not considered as an open container of beverage and can be transported in a vehicle as an exception.

Ordinance Violations for Open Container

  • Section 316.1936(7) of Florida statutes 2021, Title XXIII says that a country may adopt an ordinance that imposes a more strict and stringent restriction on the possession of an open container of alcoholic beverage in motor vehicles.

Many cities in Florida have enacted the ordinance to prohibit alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles through harsher punishments and penalties. Additionally, many cities, including the city of Tampa, regulate the possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages in sidewalks, streets, beaches, and parking through ordinances.

Punishment- Usually, an open container of alcoholic beverage possession charged under a city ordinance is punishable with a $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail. Also, the convict loses the right to expunge or seal this or any other criminal offence recorded under the law of Florida

Possession of Alcohol by a Person under the age of 21

  • As per section 562.111 of The Florida statutes 2021, it is illegal for a person under 21 years of age to have in his/her possession an alcoholic beverage.

This will result in additional charges for misdemeanor possession of alcoholic beverages by an underage.

Punishment- This possession is charged under second-degree misdemeanor, i.e. a $500 fine or jail up to 60 days.

This is how open container laws work in Florida. If you are properly educated about these laws, you will save yourself from legal troubles while complying with the authorities.

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