Most people in Ouachita Parish are aware that if they are caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, they may be criminally charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). However, many people are surprised to be charged with alcohol-related offenses after being a passenger in another person’s vehicle.
It is true that in order to be charged with drunk driving, the prosecution must show that a person was operating a vehicle. Passengers clearly do not operate the vehicle. Still, passengers can be charged under the open container laws of the state. Our Ouachita Parish DUI lawyer explains more below.
What are the Open Container Laws in Ouachita Parish?
In Ouachita Parish, as throughout the rest of Louisiana, it is against the law to have an open can, bottle, or other container that has alcohol inside. Under the open container laws, it is against the law for any alcohol within a container to be removed while it is in a vehicle. Under this law, while passengers cannot be charged with drunk driving, they could be charged with having an open container, which is classified as a misdemeanor.
Exceptions to the Open Container Laws in Ouachita Parish
The law in Louisiana prohibits both passengers and drivers from transporting alcohol in an open container, or in any container that has had a portion of the alcohol removed from it. While the law is quite clear, there are some exceptions to it. These are as follows:
- Certain vehicles: Passengers riding in specific types of vehicles are allowed to carry open containers and consume alcohol while they are on the road. Limousines, parade floats, as well as some RVs and mobile homes are considered exempt from the open container laws. An Ouachita Parish DUI lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine if the vehicle you were riding in is considered exempt.
- The location of the open container: Having an open container in a vehicle is only against the law when it is immediately accessible to the driver or passengers. If an open container is in the back set, the trunk, or in a locked glove compartment, it is not a violation of the open container laws.
- Drive-thru alcoholic beverages: There are many drive-thru establishments that offer frozen daiquiris and other beverages containing alcohol. It is not against the law to have these drinks in a vehicle as long as the lid is on and the beverage does not have a straw protruding from it. While it may be tempting to lift the lid to take a sip, it is against the open container law to have any of the contents missing from it.
Our DUI Lawyer in Ouachita Parish Can Help with Your Case
Although a violation of the open container law is a misdemeanor, it can still have serious consequences now, and in the future. At Whiddon Criminal Defense, our Monroe DUI lawyer has the necessary skills and experience to help you beat your charges so you avoid any harsh penalties. Call us now at 318-594-3592 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.