What Are the Laws Against Carrying Alcohol in a Vehicle in Pennsylvania?

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It is now officially summer and with the Fourth of July just around the corner, many people will be celebrating the warmer weather with backyard barbecues, road trips and alcoholic beverages. However, if you and your passengers plan on hitting the liquor store on your way to your next party, you should be aware that you will be bound by certain restrictions dictated by state statutes. If you would like more information on the laws against carrying alcohol in a car in Pennsylvania, please read on, then contact an experienced Pittsburgh first DUI lawyer today.

Does Pennsylvania have laws against carrying alcohol in your car?

Practically every state in the union has an open container law of one sort or another and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is no exception. In the Keystone State, open container laws apply to both drivers and passengers of motor vehicles and the laws provide that neither a driver nor a passenger can have an open alcohol beverage in a vehicle. In fact, these open container laws apply regardless of whether the vehicle is moving or parked. Furthermore, the open container does not necessarily have to be consumed in order to be in violation of state laws. Violations of these laws can result in criminal charges filed against you.

What constitutes an open container violation in Pennsylvania?

Generally, statute defines an open container as an alcoholic beverage that:

  • Has been previously opened
  • Has a broken seal, or
  • Has had some of the contents removed

If you wish to legally transport a previously-opened container of alcohol, you may do so by properly resealing it and placing it in the trunk or stored in a secured, locked container.

What are the penalties for illegally carrying alcohol in your car in Pennsylvania?

If you violate the Commonwealth’s open container law, then you are subject to penalties and fines. Violations of open container laws are considered a summary offense, which is punishable by a fine of $500 and up to 90 days in jail. Depending on the surrounding circumstances and your prior criminal history, it is not outside the realm of possibility that you may also face license suspension and other enhanced penalties. This is why you should strongly consider retaining the services of a skilled Allegheny County DUI lawyer.

Together, you can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and formulate a possible defense. For example, if the officer conducted an illegal search of the vehicle, then your competent legal representative may be able to have the search and evidence against you deemed inadmissible. If nothing else, a seasoned legal professional will negotiate on your behalf and strive to lessen your penalties.

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If you are facing a DUI charge, contact The Law Offices of George Heym to schedule your free initial consultation.

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