How Does an Open Container Violation Differ From a DUI in New Jersey?

person opening alcohol in car

One common misconception in the Garden State stems from those who think a DUI and open container violation is the same. However, this is far from the truth. These are two distinct charges with different parameters and penalties for those found in violation. If you’ve been ticketed for an open container violation, you’ll want a Bergen County traffic ticket attorney to represent you. Keep reading to learn more about this offense and how it differs from a DUI.

What Constitutes an Open Container Violation?

When traveling with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, you risk receiving a violation if pulled over. Generally, anyone discovered driving with an open can or bottle of alcohol in the passenger portion of their vehicle can receive a ticket. It doesn’t matter if a passenger admits ownership of the drink, the driver can still receive a violation.

It’s important to note that someone can have an open container of alcohol, such as transporting a bottle of liquor to a friend’s house where you plan to spend the night, so long as the bottle is in a location out of reach from the driver and passengers. Most commonly, keeping your open alcohol in the trunk of your vehicle will prevent a violation. Similarly, if there is an empty bottle in the passenger portion of your car, this is considered trash and not an open container. However, if pulled over for behavior that would indicate intoxication, in conjunction with the smell of alcohol or a high blood alcohol concentration, an empty bottle can only serve to further incriminate you in a DUI offense.

How Do These Offenses Differ From a DUI?

Though they may seem similar, open container violations are different from DUIs. Someone convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will face more severe penalties. Similarly, to receive a DUI, the police must have evidence that there is alcohol in your system and your driving is impacted. If you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you will receive a DUI regardless.

The penalties for a New Jersey DUI range depending on previous charges and your BAC level. For example, if it is your first offense and your BAC is less than 0.10%, you’ll face a maximum fine of $400, potential jail time, and the installation of an ignition interlock device to regain your driver’s license, among additional penalties. An open container violation, on the other hand, only results in a $200 fine for a first offense. However, this can have negative implications for subsequent offenses. In some instances, you may also experience an increase in your insurance rates.

Though it may not seem like a serious offense, keeping your record clean is essential. If ticketed for having an open container in your vehicle, you’ll want to enlist the help of an experienced traffic violation attorney. Contact the Law Office Of Attorney Conway today to learn more about how we can help you navigate this process to achieve the best possible outcome for your circumstances.