When you are out partying with friends, you might have one who is riding in your vehicle who wants to bring their alcoholic beverage with them when you leave the venue. This isn’t ever a good idea because of open container laws. Nobody in a vehicle can have an open container in North Carolina. It doesn’t matter if the person is the driver or passenger.
Another point to know about North Carolina law is that open container laws also apply to parked vehicles. This shocks many people because a parked vehicle isn’t in motion so they assume that they can drink in a car to get out of the elements.
There are a couple of exceptions to the open container laws, but they don’t apply to most situations. Open containers are possible in a house trailer, in the living quarters of a motor home, and in the passenger area of a vehicle that is used, manufactured and designed for the transportation of people for compensation (like a limo or party bus), but the type of alcohol matters. Only unfortified wine and malt beverages are allowable. No open containers of spirituous liquor, fortified wine, or wine with a high alcohol content are ever permissible.
Any container of alcohol that has a broken seal is considered to be open. Even if there isn’t any missing and nobody in the vehicle has had a sip of alcohol, the container is still considered open.
If you are charged with having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, you may be scrutinized for the possibility of being impaired. You should take the charge seriously and work on your DUI defense strategy as quickly as possible.