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3 things you should know about NC open container laws

Many people assume that as long as they are not intoxicated, they will not get into any trouble getting behind the wheel. This is not necessarily true, though. Even if you are completely sober, if you happen to have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, a law enforcement officer may issue you a ticket or even arrest you. North Carolina enforces strict open container laws.

Keep the following three facts in mind when it comes to the liability of an open container. 

1. Any open container can count

As the name of the law implies, any open container of alcohol is a potential justification for arrest when you are interacting with law enforcement. If you have an old beer can in your car from past festivities, or you are on your way to the recycling center with a bag full of beer bottles, these could theoretically land you in trouble, even though you clearly had not been drinking while driving.

2. Passengers cannot have containers of alcohol

Drivers are not the only ones who can't have open containers of alcohol while driving; the law also bars passengers from having an open container of alcohol with them while the vehicle is in motion. If you are the driver, you can be legally liable for the actions of a passenger who is drinking alcohol in your vehicle, regardless of whether you have a drink.

3. Consequences can be serious

According to the UNC School of Government, a violation of North Carolina's open container law is a noncriminal offense and thus will not get you arrested, but it is common that the charge will be coupled with a DUI charge, which does result in arrest. Consequences might include license suspension, jail time and heavy fines if you receive a conviction. 

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Law Office of Christopher A. Connelly
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Charlotte, NC 28204

Phone: 704-376-9376
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