Open Container

In Lansing and throughout the state of Michigan, it is illegal to have open containers containing alcohol or intoxicants that are easily accessible to the driver or passengers. A driver or passenger may not consume or drink alcohol in a motor vehicle. At The Leydorf Law Firm, DUI defense attorney Nicholas Leydorf is dedicated to protecting the freedom and legal rights of individuals accused of violating open container laws in Ingham County and throughout Michigan.

Open containers of alcohol should be transported in the trunk of the vehicle; if caught by police with open intoxicants in the passenger compartment of your vehicle, you may be charged with a misdemeanor offense. Michigan open container laws are designed for the purpose of deterring drivers from consuming potentially intoxicating beverages while operating a motor vehicle. If a police officer pulls you over and finds an open container inside your vehicle, you could possibly face penalties including jail time and fines if charged and convicted.

It is important to know the rights afforded to you by the federal and Michigan constitutions. Our office has handled hundreds of criminal cases across Michigan and in many cases, individuals voluntarily give their consent for a law enforcement officer to search their vehicle. Absent a warrant, an individual has the right to tell an officer “No” if they ask “Do you mind if I search your home/car/backpack, etc.?” In some cases, absent the consent of the individual, the police officer would not have been permitted to search the vehicle or home. The officer is merely “fishing” for an unsuspecting person to give them the opportunity to conduct a search without probable cause. Consent, where lawfully obtained, is an exception to the warrant requirement. This means that if you consent to a search, a police officer does not have to obtain a warrant.

What Constitutes an Open Container in Michigan?

Any container that is used to hold liquor or alcohol including bottles, cups, jars, or cans is considered an open container if the seal has been broken and the substance can easily be consumed. This applies whether the liquor or alcohol is wine, beer, whiskey, vodka, or any other beverage containing alcohol. Open container laws apply to parking lots and any areas that are accessible to the public, including roadways and interstates. Individuals who have a vehicle which is not equipped with a trunk such as pick-up trucks or SUV's must have open containers stored in a locked glove compartment, or behind the last seat which is in an upright position so that the container is not easily accessible.

Criminal Penalties for Open Container in Ingham County and Throughout Michigan

If you are arrested for violating open container laws, it is essential that you consult with Ingham County DUI defense attorney Nicholas Leydorf right away. A conviction will result in serious criminal penalties that may include a maximum of 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. It is also important to consider that you may be charged with a DUI or drunk driving offense if police suspect that you have been consuming alcohol and that your ability to drive in a safe manner is impaired. If charged with OWI, the penalties will be more severe. Ultimately, your reputation, career, and freedom may be impacted.

Contact Lansing DUI Defense Lawyer Nicholas Leydorf Now

Unfortunately, open container violations frequently go hand-in-hand with accusations of driving under the influence of alcohol. This means that in addition to jail time and fines, you could face probation, community service, even suspension of your driver's license. At The Leydorf Law Firm, we fight vigorously on behalf of clients charged with DUI and/or open container violations. Contact us now at (517) 388-6800.