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Are there any defenses to open container charges?

The State of Arizona has an interest in limiting the number of intoxicated drivers on state roadways. While there are many ways to achieve this objective, it is important for drivers not to have open containers of alcohol in their vehicles. After all, if a container is open, a driver might be too willing to take a sip.

According to Arizona law, it is unlawful to have an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. An open container is one that has a broken manufacturer’s seal. If you are facing misdemeanor charges for having an open container, you might wonder whether you have a feasible defense.

Civil rights defenses

Before stopping your vehicle, officers must have reasonable suspicion that you are breaking some law. If officers ignore this requirement, you may have a valid defense. That is, you might be able to argue that officers violated your civil rights. The same may be true if officers find your open container during an illegal search of your car, truck or SUV.

Factual defenses

The location of the open container also may give you a defense. That is, if your container was in the trunk, a locked glove compartment or another out-of-reach place, you might be able to beat your criminal charges with a factual defense. Likewise, you may be able to prove your container was not actually open.

Deciding how to defend yourself against criminal charges requires a careful examination of both the facts and the law. Ultimately, before floating any defense, it is advisable to have competent legal counsel.