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Florida’s Open Container Laws

Similar to most states, Florida has both state laws and local ordinances prohibit Florida drivers from possessing open containers of alcohol in their vehicles or to consume alcohol while driving in a vehicle. Violating an open container law in Florida does come with some consequences you may be required to pay a fine, have points added to your record and face high insurance rates. 

A criminal defense attorney can assist you in minimizing and even avoiding these penalties altogether. If you or someone you know has been ticketed for carrying an open container in your vehicle, then we highly suggest you retain legal counsel. It might seem easier to just pay the ticket but fighting your ticket to avoid these consequences is often worth your while and will save you a lot of stress.  

Ticket Attorney Explains Open Container in West Palm Beach, FL

Carrying an open container in your vehicle is a traffic violation that can result in frustrating penalties. Admitting guilt to the violation means fines, points to your record, possible driver improvement classes and spiked insurance premiums. If you or someone you know was cited for carrying an open container in a vehicle, then we suggest you hire an experienced attorney such as the ones at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. 

Defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have a special focus in traffic violations and open container laws. We can utilize our skills, resources and knowledge for your case. Call us now at (561) 500-5000 to set up your first consultation free of charge. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. practices throughout the greater Martin County, Broward County, St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County, Florida. 

Overview of Open Container Laws in Florida  


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Florida’s Open Container in a Vehicle Statute

To deter public intoxication and driving under the influence, the state of Florida has banned all open containers of alcoholic beverages in vehicles. These laws can be found under Florida Statutes Section 316.1936(2)(a) and state the following:

  • It’s unlawful and punishable for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle in the state or while as a passenger in or on a vehicle being operated in the state; or
  • It’s illegal and punishable to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consume an alcoholic beverage while seated in or on a motor vehicle that was parked or stopped within a road 

Open containers that aren’t in possession of either the passenger or the driver or isn’t locked in a glove compartment, locked trunk or other locked non-passenger area of the vehicle will be considered in the possession of the operator of the vehicle by the court.


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Exceptions to Florida’s Open Container Laws in a Vehicle

Open container laws don’t apply to anyone. Florida laws state there are certain exceptions to open container laws which include the following:

  • A passenger in a vehicle where the driver is contracted to provide transportation for passengers and the driver holds a valid commercial driver license with a passenger endorsement listed in accordance to the requirements under the law;
  • A passenger of a bus where the driver holds a commercial driver license; or
  • A passenger of a self-contained motor home which is in excess of 21 feet long

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County Ordinances for Open Containers in Florida

The Florida Statutes aren’t the only piece of legislation prohibiting open containers in vehicles. Local counties also have ordinances that ban any open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. In Broward County for example, their county ordinances section 3.3 outlaws  any consumption of alcoholic beverages while driving or riding in or on a motor vehicle as well as possessing alcoholic beverages by either the driver or a passenger. 

Broward County’s ordinance also states that the open container ordinance stands even if the car is stopped completely. Palm Beach County’s ordinance § 3.3 states it’s prohibited for anyone to carry unsealed containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle in a public or semipublic area. The ordinance also establishes it’s unlawful to consume alcohol 500 feet away from a public or semipublic area. 

Martin County’s ordinance section 5.7 states it’s illegal for any person to possess a container of alcohol, unless the container seal is unbroken, or to consume an alcoholic beverage in or on a motor vehicle being operated in public or semipublic area open for travel.


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Penalties for Violating Open Container Laws in Florida

Violating an open container law isn’t a criminal violation, but it is a moving violation if you were the driver of the vehicle. An open container infraction will garner 3 points on your license if you admit guilt and are convicted of the violation. These points will stay on your license for 36 months or 3 years and if you accumulate up to 12 points on your driver’s license, then you could even have your license suspended or revoked. 

Admitting guilt and simply paying the fine may lead to a significant increase in your insurance premiums. Your insurance may even take off the label of “safe driver” if your license was suspended because of this violation. That means your insurance rates won’t be reduced for three years. 


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Additional Resources 

Open Container Laws in FL – Visit the official website for the Florida Statutes to learn more about open container laws regarding motor vehicles. Access the site to learn how the court defines an open container, the elements of the infraction and exceptions to the violation.

Palm Beach County Open Container Ordinance – Visit the official website for the Palm Beach County Ordinances to learn more about their open container section. Access the site to learn their open container laws, exceptions and the penalties related to it.


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Ticket Defense Lawyer for Open Container in Palm Beach County, FL

Have you been ticketed for having an open container in your car? If so, then we highly suggest you gain legal representation experienced in traffic citations and defense. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. is a group of attorneys with combined decades of experience defending the rights of drivers in Florida.

We can develop a strategy based on eyewitness testimony and any other available evidence. Call us now at (561) 500-5000 to set up your first consultation free. There we will sit with you, hear your case and develop a strong defense structure for your case. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. practices throughout the greater Palm Beach County area including Boca Raton, Jupiter, and West Palm Beach.


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Meltzer & Bell, P.A.

Lawrence Meltzer & Steven Bell

Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Super Lawyers Martindale-Hubble
Meltzer & Bell, P.A.
Palm Beach
515 N Flagler Dr #240
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 557-8686
Broward
110 SE 6th St Suite 1749
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
(954) 745-7457
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