Virginia Beach Open Container Laws

Virginia Beach Open Container Laws
In an effort to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents, many states have passed legislation to prevent drivers and passengers from possessing and/or consuming alcohol in a vehicle while it is operating. Commonly referred to as open container laws, these statutes also include specific guidelines for transporting open containers of alcohol. Although Virginia is one of the few states with no formal open container laws, many DUI charges arise due to the presumption of guilt an open container often creates. As a result, if you were charged with DUI after a police officer discovered an open container in your vehicle, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately.

Under the federal government’s Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), states are required to enforce certain open container laws if they want to partake in federal highway funds. Despite this requirement, the state of Virginia has no formal open container laws and, unlike many states, even allows passengers to consume alcohol while a vehicle is operating.

While passengers may be allowed to consume alcohol in a vehicle, Virginia’s open container laws prohibit drivers from drinking while they are operating a vehicle. Although no specific laws are given regarding the transportation of open containers, the law notes that, in many cases, the presence of an open container may be used as grounds for suspecting a driver of DUI.

Under state law, a police officer may presume a driver has been drinking if an open container of alcohol is located in the vehicle’s passenger area, and a portion of the alcohol has been removed. In addition to these guidelines, however, the driver must also display signs of intoxication—such as slurred speed or having alcohol on his or her breath.

If you have been charged with DUI due to the presence of an open container in your vehicle, obtaining legal representation is more important than ever. As a Class 4 misdemeanor, driving under the influence can lead to severe penalties, including jail time and license suspension.

With over a decade of trial experience, attorney Michael C. Tillotson is highly familiar with Virginia’s DUI and open container laws. Make sure the charges you are facing are justified. Contact attorney Michael C. Tillotson today for a free consultation on your case.