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What are open container laws?

| Jan 12, 2021 | DUI/DWI |

In the state of Maryland, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, many people don’t realize that it’s also illegal to drive or to ride in a vehicle with an open container of alcohol. Even if you’re not actively drinking from the container, you could still get pulled over by law enforcement.

Open container laws in Maryland

In Maryland, you could get charged with a DUI if the police catch you driving with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. Even if it’s not your container, the police will have to assume that it’s yours if you’re the only person in the vehicle. You might have to hire an attorney to help you deal with criminal charges even if you weren’t driving under the influence.

It’s also illegal for your passenger to possess an open container of alcohol while you’re driving. However, you won’t be charged if you get pulled over by the police. Instead, the person in possession of the container might find himself or herself in legal trouble.

Open container exceptions

The law makes exceptions for passengers who aren’t riding in a traditional vehicle. It’s not illegal to have an open container of alcohol if you’re riding in a bus, limousine, or taxi cab. This also applies to campers and mobile homes. However, you could still be arrested if you’re the driver of any of these vehicles.

As for the alcohol itself, the law doesn’t define what the container or the type of alcohol has to be. You could get pulled over if you’re possessing any kind of container with any amount of alcohol, even if it’s a small amount. If you’re transporting alcohol to another location, make sure you’re using a new, sealed container that hasn’t been opened before.

What should you do if you’re pulled over by law enforcement?

No case is impossible to fight, even if it appears that way at first. If you’re being accused of driving under the influence or of violating open container laws, an attorney could figure out the best way to tackle your case.