Alcohol is a substance that is consider as a potential hazard. When not abused, alcohol can help for relaxation, socialization, and celebration. It does not become dangerous until someone chooses to do something truly foolish after drinking it, such as driving a car. Many states, including Arizona, have laws that are available to deter drunk driving by inflicting strict penalties when someone gets arrest after drinking and driving. The laws that attempt to prevent drunk driving do not only include after-the-fact penalties. Many states also have laws restricting the purchase of alcohol after being already intoxicated, laws that prohibit underage drinking, and laws that impose a penalty for even having open containers outside on a sidewalk or in a car.
Open Containers in Arizona
Arizona law prohibits anyone from consuming or possessing an open container of alcohol inside motor vehicles. The law not only applies to drivers but also applies to open containers in the possession of passengers in motor vehicles. In fact, the passenger compartment for purposes of this law includes unlocked compartments inside the vehicle. It does not extend to the trunk or the area behind the back seats. Essentially, the law is available to prohibit open containers of alcohol anywhere inside of a vehicle that may be within reach of the driver.
In many states, open containers can even include an empty bottle or can that once held alcohol so long as some alcohol still remains in the container. A violation does not extend to the smell of alcohol. But even an empty bottle may be sufficient for a police officer to conduct a DUI investigation. As Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, an open container violation may have consequences beyond the class-2 misdemeanor for that charge alone. Once a police officer is conducting a DUI investigation, he or she merely needs sufficient evidence of the driver being impaired to the slightest degree to charge him or her with a DUI.
In the News
What makes laws such as Arizona’s open container law so effective is that it is enforced against all drivers, regardless of their station. As one legislator recently learned, an open container violation is not waived because of the notoriety of the driver. According to police statements, Representative Albert Hale got charged with having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle. The fact that this law was against Representative Hale will hopefully serve as a warning to him that drinking and driving is not possible on Arizona roadways. Given that he had previously been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, this citation should help Representative Hale realize the dangers behind choosing to drive after drinking alcohol.
If a car accident injures you, the professionals at the Thompson Law Firm can help answer any questions you may have about the law and how it can help you on your path to recovery.