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Open Container Laws in California

November 11, 2010

It is not uncommon to hear stories from the 1970’s and 1980’s when our grandparents generation still drove on road trips with a six pack of beer or a fifth of whiskey to make the trip go by faster.  Having an open container while driving wasn’t uncommon during our their generation; it was a very different era.  However, California open container laws have changed.

Possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle in the State of California is now a violation of law.

Under Vehicle Code section 23222(a), no person may have an open container of alcohol in their possession in a vehicle.  The good news is that this violation is only an infraction and will not result in jail time.  A conviction for all open container violations under the vehicle code, except Vehicle Code section 23223(which does not result in a point on your record), will result in a fine and a point on your record for a moving violation.

Open Container Under 21 Years of Age

If you are under the age of 21, California’s zero tolerance law will result in a one year license suspension for either having an open container or under Vehicle Code section 23136, having .01% blood alcohol or greater if you are convicted.  It is the DMV administrative per se hearing, not the court action, which causers the license suspension.  Those under age 21 will also receive a one year license suspension for possession of marijuana in a searched vehicle under Vehicle Code section 23222(b).

California Municipalities Treat Open Container Laws Differently

Different municipalities in California have different regulations regarding alcohol.  Many of these are misdemeanors.  Contact Top San Mateo County DUI Lawyer Thomas Greenberg to consult about your local regulations regarding alcohol possession laws for localized information.  Call (650) 242-0021 to review what defenses options you have available to you.

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