Almost everyone is aware of the dangers of driving under the influence (DUI). It only makes sense that you want to avoid that at all costs. However, some people are confused about passenger issues. Open container laws can cause your friends or relatives to be in trouble just for drinking in your vehicle. Read on to find out more.

No Place for Drinking

With all the places available to drink, vehicles are far from an ideal choice. You can drink almost any amount of liquor you want in your own home, but public places like restaurants, parks, and other areas often restrict the consumption of alcohol. Even bars can cut inebriated individuals off if they seem to be too intoxicated. Many states allow people who are clearly not in control of the vehicle to consume alcoholic beverages, but that is far from the norm. Almost all states have laws about open containers of alcoholic beverages in vehicles – both underway and parked.

Don't Be Tempted

While many think passengers should be free to drink what they want as long as they are not driving, proximity is actually the real problem. When the guy beside you in the passenger seat has a drink in hand, you might be tempted to also take a drink or two from the beverage holders between the seats. At least, that is the theory behind open container laws. If the driver could possibly access an open container of alcohol, they could be violating the state's open container laws. Unopened containers of alcohol, in most cases, must be in the back of the vehicle such as the trunk or other inaccessible locations. State laws vary a bit in both how these laws are enforced and the punishments.

What Happens Next?

While open container violations are nowhere near as serious as that of a DUI, the punishment can still ruin your day and end up costing a lot of money to resolve. As to who pays the price for these violations, it's usually the passenger who ends up taking the hit rather than the driver of the vehicle. In many cases, the driver of the vehicle may be subject to DUI testing since the potential exists for impairment. In most cases, this type of violation falls under the misdemeanor category and jail time seldom occurs. Fines, however, are often levied.

If a traffic stop has led to issues with either the driver or passengers of a vehicle, speak to a criminal defense lawyer about any open container or DUI charges right away.