Open Container Law Arizona
Arizona has a very strict set of laws with very specific wording when it comes to the carrying of open containers in a vehicle. Being caught with an open container in a traffic stop can be a serious offense, and if you are thought to be under the influence the officer can use that as probable cause to test you. Make sure that you are seeking legal counsel if you find yourself in a situation where you have been pulled over and arrested due to the open container laws.
What the Law Says
A.R.S. § 4-251 is the law for alcohol in a car. It outlines the violations, the classification, the exceptions, and the definitions within the law.
Motor Vehicle- Motor vehicle refers to any vehicle that is being driven or moved by mechanical power. It is primarily used on public highways and does not include vehicles exclusively ran on rails.
Open Container- Refers to any bottle, can, jar, or container used for dispensing alcohol and has been opened or the seal is broken, and contents have been removed from the container.
Passenger Compartment- This is the area of the vehicle that is designed to seat the driver and other passengers. This includes unlocked glove boxes and any unlocked portable devices within reach of anyone occupying the vehicle. This does not include the trunk, the locked glove box, or the area behind the third row when there is no trunk.
Public Highway/Right-of-Way of a Public Highway- This refers to any roadways within government control in which a vehicle drives upon.
It is illegal to have any kind of open container in a passenger compartment. What that means is that there cannot be can, bottle, jar, or container that has had the seal broken within reach of any person in the vehicle.
Passengers, albeit that they are not driving, cannot drink while the vehicle is operational. This goes against the open container and passenger compartment definitions at the same time.
You Can Carry an Open Container
There is a way to carry an open container in your vehicle that will not get you in trouble or arrested. The fine print of the law states that it cannot be within reach. This means that something locked or out of reach is enough.
Putting it in a locked glove box or in a separate locked box in your vehicle where it cannot be accessed without a key is allowable. So is placing the container in the trunk. If you do not have a trunk on your vehicles, like a van or SUV, it can be placed behind the third-row seating or whatever row the last set of seats is in the vehicle.
If You Get Pulled Over
If you get pulled over, the violation of an open container is considered a class 2 misdemeanor. What this means is that based on Arizona’s sentencing procedures, the fine for a class 2 misdemeanor is up to $750 and a maximum of 4 months in jail.
It is important, if you find yourself in a situation like this, to call an attorney right away who specializes in charges that revolve around DUIs and liquor-related offenses. They can help defend you against the charges that you are facing in the state of Arizona.
Click here to find out what is drunk driving in the State of Arizona?