Driving with an open container in your car in Arizona is a big deal. If you’re convicted of violating the open container law, Arizona Revised Statutes § 4-251, then you will have a Class 2 Misdemeanor on your record. This is a serious offense, which can carry up to 4 months in jail, a fine of up to $750, and up to 2 years of probation. In addition, Arizona does not have expungement available, and so if convicted you will be marked with a criminal record that could lead to difficulties obtaining work, loans, licenses, and more.
Requirements to be convicted of this offense
To be convicted, the State must prove that you either (1) consumed alcohol while operating or within the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle that was located on a public highway or right-of-way of a public highway; or (2) possessed an open container of alcohol within the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle that was located on any public highway or right-of-way of a public highway.
This means that consuming the alcohol is not required for a conviction, merely possessing the open container is enough. Moreover, an “open container” does not mean a literal open container but can include any container that contains alcohol and “has been opened, has had its seal broken or the contents of which have been partially removed.” So that bottle of wine you got corked at the restaurant and had in the passenger compartment? An open container.
When Does the Law Not Apply?
There are, of course, exceptions. The law does not apply to a passenger in a bus, limousine, taxi, or “transportation network company.” A transportation network company means an entity that has been issued a permit to operate in the state and uses a digital network or software application to connect passengers to transportation network services – this means Uber, Lyft, and any other ridesharing company that is licensed to operate in the state.
The law also does not apply to a passenger in the living quarters of a motor home.
Legal Representation is Essential
If you are charged with a violation of the open container law then you need representation. A conviction can give you a life-long record, jail, and fines, along with collateral consequences, and is not something that you should face on your own. Our experienced, aggressive Phoenix criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations for Open Container cases; call today or contact us online to schedule one today.
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