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Are you responsible for passenger's drinking alcohol in your car?

The short answer is, it depends on the state you live in. 43 states currently prohibit people from possessing "open containers" in public areas ? like streets, cars and sidewalks. This post will go over these rules and how you could get arrested for violating them.

An "open container law" expressly forbids the general population from possessing open containers of alcohol. The laws do not restrict drinking or being drunk in public, only that people may not have open containers. The practical effect of these laws is to prohibit drinking in public areas.

Regarding cars, these laws effectively prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol while a car is being driven on a street. In fact, some states hold the driver responsible for the actions taken by his or her passengers. It is unlikely to result in anything more than a ticket but anything is possible. So it is best that you keep control of your passenger and do not permit them to drink while you are driving.

So far, seven states do not have open container laws. Those states are Connecticut, West Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, Arkansas, and Delaware. But bear in mind that just because there is no state statute, there are likely local ordinances that restrict the consumption of alcohol.

There are also some municipalities that loosen open container laws to boost tourism. Two famous examples of this are the Strip in Las Vegas and the French Quarter in New Orleans. Both of these municipalities allow people to openly carry alcohol. But most still restrict the possession of open containers in vehicles.

If you were arrested for drinking and driving then you may want to speak to an attorney. DUI charges, while manageable, are still very serious. A felony charge will follow you around for years and could impact future employment opportunities. An attorney can ensure that your rights are respected by the prosecutor and the court.

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