Posted by Jim Yeargan in DUI Laws on September 19, 2016
Earlier this month, the Georgia State Patrol issued a warrant for the arrest of a motor vehicle driver who caused a catastrophic DUI accident on J. Frank Culpepper Road in Echols County. Since the event occurred, Georgia’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team has investigated exactly how the accident occurred.
The team has determined that the driver, who had a blood alcohol content that was three times above Georgia’s legal limit, swerved into an oncoming lane of traffic and struck an approaching motor vehicle, which was carrying seven passengers. One of the passengers was hospitalized and later passed away from injuries incurred during the accident.
The driver who caused the accident now faces several charges including felony homicide by vehicle first degree, felony serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence, failure to exercise due care, failure to maintain lane, driving on the wrong side of the roadway, no seatbelt, open container, and no registration.
While this tragic accident demonstrates the grave consequences of what can open when motor vehicle drivers abuse alcohol, this scenario is also an example of an accident in which a motor vehicle driver received an open container charge.
The Requirements for an Open Container Charge
Georgia law makes it illegal for anyone to either possess or consume an open alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a roadway or shoulder. To satisfy the requirements for this charge, several conditions must be satisfied which include:
- An Alcohol Container. The container can be any open bottle, can, or container that contains any amount of alcohol.
- Open. The bottle must have either an open seal or contain alcoholic contents that have been partially removed.
- Location. The container must be located in any area of a motor vehicle where a driver or passenger would sit while a motor vehicle is in operation. Locked glove compartments or trunks are not considered areas where open container are located.
Who Can Be Charged With an Open Container Violation
When the various requirements listed above are satisfied, open container charges are made only against the individual who is determined to have consumed alcohol or been in the possession of the open container at the time that the charge was made. In cases where a motor vehicle driver is alone, the open container is deemed to be in the individual’s possession. It should be noted that these open container laws do not apply in situations where either a vehicle is used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation like in the case of an Uber or Lyft vehicle or in scenarios where the motor vehicle is used as a living quarter like in the case of motor homes.
The Penalties for Open Container Violations in Georgia
Individuals in the state of Georgia who are found to be in the possession of an open container face fines up to $200, and 2 points on their driver’s license. While the initial consequences may not be severe an open container conviction will wreak havoc on your insurance premiums. Your insurance company will view this as “A DUI that hasn’t happened yet” and will drastically increase your insurance premiums.
How a Top Atlanta DUI Attorney Can Help
Many motor vehicle operators who are charged with open container or other DUI related violations can face significant penalties. To make sure that your case reaches the best potential conclusion, contact a skilled Atlanta DUI attorney at Yeargan , Berber, & Kert who will zealously defend against any charges on your behalf.