Although DUIs and DWIs are the most common drinking-and-driving arrests, it’s not the only alcohol-related trouble people can get into while on the road; there are also laws on the books that allow police to arrest people for driving while having open containers of alcohol in their cars. Here’s more information about open-container arrests in Ocean City, MD.
Two Types of Open-Container Violations
There are actually two types of open-container violations a person can be arrested and convicted of: open container in driver’s possession and open container in the vehicle. Even though they sound similar, they are two distinct charges with different elements of proof.
The open container in driver’s possession charge is for when a person is caught with an open can or bottle of alcohol in their hand or within reach. A person can be arrested for this violation if the container is in the car’s cup holder, in a nearby purse or bag, or in the person’s pocket, and the criterion for this charge is the container must be easily accessible by the person driving.
The open container in the vehicle charge is used when there is an open container anywhere in the car or truck except for the trunk but beyond the normal reach of the driver. So if the bottle was found in the glove compartment or under the seat, then the person driving the vehicle may be arrested and charged with this violation.
The prosecutor doesn’t have to prove the person driving drank the beverage to obtain a conviction, he or she only needs to prove the container was opened in the vehicle and that the person was driving on a public road. However, there are several defenses that could be used to avoid being convicted of this crime.
If there were several people in the vehicle, then it would be incumbent on the prosecutor to prove the container didn’t belong to or wasn’t being controlled by one of the other people in the car or truck. It’s also not illegal to have open containers in a cab, bus, limousine, camper, or house car.
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