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Open Container Law

What is the Open Container Law?

Open Container laws refer to laws found in the vast majority of states that prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in certain places. The consumption of alcohol is not the determinative factor, though, rather it is having an open container of alcohol in public places where such is not permitted.

An Open Container citation is much like a traffic violation, where you have the option to simply pay a fine and move on; however, like a traffic violation, additional consequences will vary based upon the circumstances. Your criminal history is a factor, as are the circumstances under which you were cited. For example, if you received a DUI, the open container citation is a complicating factor. Furthermore, if you are on probation, or are underage, your probation can be revoked or you could lose your driving privileges. Call The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. to address your open container citation(s) with one of our Criminal Defense Attorneys.

What is the Purpose of Open Container Laws?

Open container laws serve two primary functions: (1) to promote community safety, and (2) to qualify participating states for federal transportation subsidies.

Disallowing open containers of alcohol is intended to lessen individual public drunkenness, thereby improving living conditions and safety. The residents and businesses of a community should be able to flourish and improve community quality of life by discouraging alcohol prompted disruptions via these laws. Additionally, by outlawing the carrying and consumption of open alcohol by drivers, these laws should serve to protect everyone on the road. Improving quality of life and safety are goals most communities strive to achieve; in fact only 7 of the 50 states do not impose open container laws.

Another factor in the enforcement of open container laws is that the federal government provides transportation subsidies for those states that enact these laws. Cities like Las Vegas and New Orleans have limited open container laws because the money brought in via tourism more than offsets the loss of federal transportation funding they would otherwise receive. Philadelphia, surrounding counties such as Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, and Chester County, along with the South Jersey suburbs are not quite the tourist party towns of Las Vegas and New Orleans. Therefore, in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it makes sense to receive these subsidies and promote safety.

Where Can't I Have an Open Container in Philadelphia?

In Philadelphia, you cannot have an open container:

  • On a public sidewalk
  • Inside a car; whether in motion or not
  • In common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums, or hotels
  • In a residential neighborhood
  • At or inside a state government building
  • On school property
  • In any parking lot

Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties have similar rules, as do the South Jersey suburbs.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Contesting an open container citation is not easy. You will need to prove that you were either not in fact in violation of a law or that you did not actually possess an open container. An attorney is best suited to investigate, prepare appropriate questions for witnesses, and prove your case.

The attorneys with The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. can assist you in resolving your open container law violation and any other related matters. Call today to schedule a 100% free consultation with one of our criminal law attorneys.

This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.

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