Many people may assume that they are not at risk of getting a DUI if they are in the passenger seat. However, it is still illegal for a passenger to drink in a vehicle. While passengers typically will not be charged with a DUI, they could be charged with violating Lousiana’s open container laws if they have an unsealed alcoholic beverage in the car. Due to this law, you could still find yourself in trouble with the law if you are drinking in a car, whether you are the driver or not.
If you have been charged with violating Louisiana’s open container laws, an experienced DUI defense lawyer can help make sure your rights are protected. Your attorney will investigate the details of your case and help you vigorously fight the charges against you.
Exceptions to Lousiana’s Open Container Laws
Louisiana law prohibits both drivers and passengers from transporting alcohol in open containers or a container where the contents have been partially removed. However, there are several exceptions to this rule, including:
Passengers in certain vehicles may be allowed to consume alcohol while they ride. Parade floats, limousines, and some mobile homes or RVs could be considered exceptions. Your lawyer will carefully review the details of your case to determine if the vehicle you were riding in fits this exception.
Location Within the Vehicle
If the open container is in the trunk or behind the backseat, you are not violating the law. It is also safe to store an open container in a locked glove compartment or any other area not easily accessible for passengers and drivers in the vehicle.
Frozen Daiquiris or Other Frozen Alcoholic Beverages
Louisiana is home to many frozen daiquiri drive-thrus that sell alcoholic beverages to-go. Frozen daiquiris are safe to have in your car as long as the lid is on and there is no straw protruding from the beverage. Some passengers may feel like they can still sneak a sip and replace the lid. However, the container is also in violation of the law if the contents are partially removed.
New Orleans has unique city ordinances surrounding open containers. Individuals can consume alcohol in open, non-glass containers in certain districts, including the French Quarter. However, any open container in a vehicle is still considered a violation of the law.
Consequences for Violating Louisiana’s Open Container Laws
If you are convicted of violating Louisiana’s open container laws, you could be charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $100 for the first offense. Additionally, finding an open container may give the officer probable cause to search the vehicle, putting you and the driver at risk.
Drinking as a passenger in a vehicle may also call the driver’s sobriety into question. The police may ask the driver to take a field sobriety test. If the test shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, the driver could be arrested and charged with a DUI.
Talk to an Assertive Louisiana DUI Defense Attorney
If you are facing an open container charge in Louisiana, you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side. Eric G. Johnson of the John D. and Eric G. Johnson Law Firm knows the ins and outs of Louisiana law and is dedicated to helping his clients navigate the complex legal system. When you partner with him, you can have peace of mind that you have a tireless advocate on your side. To learn more about how Attorney Johnson can help you, call us at (318) 377-1555 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.