Can I Be Arrested for an Open-Container in Georgia?

Question: Over the weekend I was coming home from Atlanta where I had been at a cigar and wine party. The cigars and wine were really good but coming home to the suburbs I got pulled-over by the police. I had some wines bottles in the car and a couple were opened because people were tasting some of the French, California, Australian and Argentinian wines that I brought. The cop charged me with speeding, open container & DUI (driving under the influence). I think I was over the speed limit and I did have a buzz, but can they really charge someone for having an open bottle in the car? It wasn't like I was drinking out of the bottle of Bordeaux while I was driving.

Answer: Many Georgians enjoy a good drink and certainly red or white wines are popular. Indeed, such magazines as Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator have a strong readership here in the Peach State. And there are many fine liquor stores throughout Georgia that sell select Bordeaux's.

But yes, having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in an automobile is against Georgia law. Whether you have an open bottle of craft beer, gin, vodka, tequila or a special wine is not material. All are alcoholic beverages and the charge of having an open container is applicable. Police are trained to look into vehicles that have been stopped for contraband. If police find an open container they will usually add that as a charge and that allegation is often made in conjunction with a DUI arrest. An open container charge is rather common in Georgia. Defendants often claim that the bottle has been in the car for several days and they did not know it was there. The police officer usually tries to note if the bottle has any liquor, wine or beer still in it.

Please call The Sherman Law Group at 678-215-4106 so that we can answer any questions you may have about a Georgia DUI charge.

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