Florida Open Container Law

What Is An Open Container In Florida?

An open alcohol container is defined under F.S. § 316.1936 as “any container of alcoholic beverage which is immediately capable of being consumed from, or the seal of which has been broken.” Generally, a container is considered an open bottle, can, cup, flask, or glass with any amount of alcohol inside. Keep in mind the premise of a violation is possession which isn’t applicable if the container is in a locked area of the vehicle, such as the glove box, trunk, or another nonpassenger area.

Though this law is commonly thought to apply to drivers and vehicles, it’s important to understand that Florida uses a broad definition of a road — “a way open to travel by the public.” This encompasses allies, highways, and streets, along with:

  • Bridges
  • Culverts
  • Ditches
  • Drains
  • Embankments
  • Tunnels

If you or a loved one have been charged with a Florida open container law violation, contact 911 Biker Law. Our law firm in Orlando, FL has assisted many clients and delves into the facts and nuances of every open container case to build a firm defense of your rights.  

Penalties Of An Open Container Violation

The penalties generally vary as each city and municipality has the ability to create its own open container ordinance. Yet, the violation is usually charged as a misdemeanor with up to $100 in fines for a driver or passenger. As a driver, you can elect to have a hearing regarding the violation. But, if you’re found guilty, the court can impose up to $500 in fines along with having three points added to your driving record.

Should a law enforcement officer find an open container in a vehicle, you may be subject to a breathalyzer or other field sobriety tests. If the test(s)  reveal that the individual is driving under the influence, the penalties frequently include community service, driver’s license revocation, fines, potential jail time and more.

A moving violation attorney with 911 Biker Law can help mitigate the potential penalties while ardently defending your rights. To schedule a consultation with an attorney, contact our Orlando, FL law firm.

Open Container Under Age 21

If a person that is under age 21 is found to be in violation of the open container law, they’re also charged with possession of alcohol by a person under age 21. This is a second-degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.

Can Passengers In A Vehicle Drink Alcohol?

No. This includes if the vehicle is parked or stopped on the road and if the vehicle is a rideshare such as Lyft or Uber. If a passenger does have an open container, the driver can be charged with a non-criminal moving traffic violation. The penalties for this violation are up to $500 in fines and possible jail time depending on the jurisdiction where it occurred.

The exceptions are:

  • If the passengers are riding in a commercial vehicle and the driver has a commercial drivers license allowing the passengers to possess open containers; and/or
  • If the passengers are riding in a minimum 21-foot motorhome.

Does The Open Container Law Only Affect Drivers, Passengers & Vehicles?

No. Again, it depends on individual municipalities but it’s possible to be cited for possession of an open container on private property, a public street, and/or a sidewalk unless you have permission from the owner. The City of Orlando outlines the prohibition of open containers in § 33.06 along with areas and situations exempted from the ordinance.