California Open Container Law

open_container_law_in_california

There are various crimes stated by law while driving a vehicle. Studies of medical experts strongly suggest the commission of an accident depends on the intake of alcohol and drugs in the blood. Most notable crimes on the road are DUI and “open container” laws.

According to California Vehicle Code (§ 23152(a) (b)) in order to be found guilty in DUI, the prosecutor must prove that the offender:

a) was driving a vehicle
b) was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher(California’s DUI Per Se Law).

All charges are very serious and can result in the loss of your license and much more. Moreover, in California, there are “open container” laws which are codified in Vehicular Code §23221 – 23229.
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code §23221 (a) no driver shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle upon a highway, (b) no passenger shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle upon a highway.

It should be noted that neither a driver nor a passenger are allowed to have an open alcohol container, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed in the passenger compartment of a vehicle (California Vehicle Code §23221).

California Vehicle Code defines the term “vehicle” as a device that is self-propelled, including: all self-propelled automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, mopeds, and scooters. It is not considered to be a vehicle animals and bicycles.

The Open Container laws are stricter towards persons under 21. The California Vehicle Code 23224 VC prohibits them from driving any motor vehicle carrying any alcoholic beverage whether it is opened or not, unless the person:

  • is accompanied by a parent, responsible adult relative, any other adult designated by the parent, or legal guardian for the purpose of transportation of an alcoholic beverage,
  • or is employed by a licensee and is driving the motor vehicle during regular hours and in the course of the person’s employment.

Moreover, it is not even permitted a person under 21 to be a passenger in such vehicles (regardless of the beverage is being opened or not).

California’s Open Container Laws are considered to be an infraction, consequently, that is punishable by a fine up to $ 250.

If the violation of the Open Container Laws of California is committed by a minor, it is considered to be a misdemeanor. Thus, the offender can be subjected to:

a) Up to 6 months in jail
b) A fine up to $ 1.000.

In addition, the judge can suspend driver’s license for 1 year or delay the obtaining of license for one year if the offender has not yet got it.

The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. We will help you to understand the various aspects of your case. We are ready to provide answers to your initial questions concerning criminal charges in California for free. Do not hesitate to contact us!

You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000

VEHICLE CODE SECTION 23152-23229.1

§23221 (a) No driver shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle upon a highway. (b) No passenger shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle upon a highway.

23222. (a) No person shall have in his or her possession on his or her person, while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle, containing any alcoholic beverage which has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed. (b) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses, while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, not more than one avoirdupois ounce of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis as defined by Section 11006.5 of the Health and Safety Code, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).

23223. (a) No driver shall have in his or her possession, while in a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle, containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
(b) No passenger shall have in his or her possession, while in a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
23224. (a) No person under the age of 21 years shall knowingly drive any motor vehicle carrying any alcoholic beverage, unless the person is accompanied by a parent, responsible adult relative, any other adult designated by the parent, or legal guardian for the purpose of transportation of an alcoholic beverage, or is employed by a licensee under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (Division 9 (commencing with Section 23000) of the Business and Professions Code), and is driving the motor vehicle during regular hours and in the course of the person’s employment. If the driver was unaccompanied, he or she shall have a complete defense if he or she was following, in a timely manner, the reasonable instructions of his or her parent, legal guardian, responsible adult relative, or adult designee relating to disposition of the alcoholic beverage. (b) No passenger in any motor vehicle who is under the age of 21 years shall knowingly possess or have under that person’s control any alcoholic beverage, unless the passenger is accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, responsible adult relative, any other adult designated by the parent, or legal guardian for the purpose of transportation of an alcoholic beverage, or is employed by a licensee under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (Division 9 (commencing with Section 23000) of the Business and Professions Code), and possession or control is during regular hours and in the course of the passenger’s employment. If the passenger was unaccompanied, he or she shall have a complete defense if he or she was following, in a timely manner, the reasonable instructions of his or her parent, legal guardian, responsible adult relative or adult designee relating to disposition of the alcoholic beverage. (c) If the vehicle used in any violation of subdivision (a) or (b)is registered to an offender who is under the age of 21 years, the vehicle may be impounded at the owner’s expense for not less than one day nor more than 30 days for each violation. (d) Any person under 21 years of age convicted of a violation of this section is subject to Section 3202.5. (e) Any person convicted for a violation of subdivision (a) or (b) is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

23225. (a) (1) It is unlawful for the registered owner of any motor vehicle to keep in a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed, unless the container is kept in the trunk of the vehicle.

(2) If the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk and is not an off-highway motor vehicle subject to identification, as defined in Section 38012, the bottle, can, or other receptacle described in paragraph (1) shall be kept in some other area of the vehicle that is not normally occupied by the driver or passengers. For the purposes of this paragraph, a utility compartment or glove compartment shall be deemed to be within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.
(3) If the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk and is an off-highway motor vehicle subject to identification, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 38012, the bottle, can, or other receptacle described in paragraph (1) shall be kept in a locked container. As used in this paragraph, “locked container” means a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device.

(b) Subdivision (a) is also applicable to a driver of a motor vehicle if the registered owner is not present in the vehicle.
(c) This section shall not apply to the living quarters of a housecare or camper.

23226. (a) It is unlawful for any driver to keep in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
(b) It is unlawful for any passenger to keep in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
(c) This section shall not apply to the living quarters of a housecar or camper.

23229. (a) Except as provided in Section 23229.1, Sections 23221 and 23223 do not apply to passengers in any bus, taxicab, or limousine for hire licensed to transport passengers pursuant to the Public Utilities Code or proper local authority, or the living quarters of a housecar or camper.
(b) Except as provided in Section 23229.1, Section 23225 does not apply to the driver or owner of a bus, taxicab, or limousine for hire licensed to transport passengers pursuant to the Public Utilities Code or proper local authority.
(c) This section shall become operative on July 1, 1989.

23229.1. (a) Subject to subdivision (b), Sections 23223 and 23225 apply to any driver providing transportation services on a prearranged basis as a charter-party carrier of passengers, as defined in Section 5360 of the Public Utilities Code, when the driver of the vehicle transports any passenger under 21 years of age and fails to comply with the requirements of Section 5384.1 of the Public Utilities Code.
(b) For purposes of subdivision (a), it is not a violation of Section 23225 for any driver providing transportation services on a prearranged basis as a charter-party carrier of passengers that is licensed pursuant to the Public Utilities Code to keep any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage in a locked utility compartment within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.
(c) In addition to the requirements of Section 1803, every clerk of a court in which any driver in subdivision (a) was convicted of a violation of Section 23225 shall prepare within 10 days after conviction, and immediately forward to the Public Utilities Commission at its office in San Francisco, an abstract of the record of the court covering the case in which the person was convicted. If sentencing is not pronounced in conjunction with the conviction, the abstract shall be forwarded to the commission within 10 days after sentencing, and the abstract shall be certified, by the person required to prepare it, to be true and correct. For the purposes of this subdivision, a forfeiture of bail is equivalent to a conviction.

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