What Is Florida’s Open Container Law?

Florida open container laws prohibit drivers and passengers from having open and available alcohol in their vehicles. Laws prohibiting open containers in Florida cover moving vehicles as well as vehicles that are parked onto or adjacent to any road. Open container laws vary slightly between states. All drivers need to understand what the law is in their location. Our Florida drunk driving lawyers explain Florida open container laws.

Can You Have an Open Container in Florida?

No, you can’t have an open container in Florida. Florida law 316.1936 prohibits drivers and passengers from having any container of alcoholic beverage that’s immediately accessible. [1] That includes any beverage where the seal has been broken, and the drink is available for consumption. An open container violation in Florida is a non-moving traffic violation punishable by a fine. You cannot lawfully have an open container in the State of Florida.

Florida Law 316.1936 – Florida Open Container Law

Florida law 316.1936 is Florida’s open container law. The law prohibits driving or riding in a motor vehicle while in possession of open alcohol. The law defines open alcohol as “any container of alcoholic beverage which is immediately capable of being consumed from, or the seal of which has been broken.”

The law applies on any public road and in the areas adjacent to the road like the sidewalks, ditches, and alleyways. Under Florida law 316.1936, it is a non-moving traffic violation to have an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car in Florida?

No, passengers cannot drink alcohol in a car in Florida. Drinking alcohol in a vehicle is a form of possessing alcohol. When you drink alcohol in a vehicle in Florida, you violate Florida law 316.1936. Passengers who drink alcohol in a car in Florida commit a non-moving traffic violation, which is punishable by a fine. In addition to drinking alcohol, a passenger may not possess a container of alcohol with a broken seal.

Can You Drink in an Uber in Florida?

No, you can’t drink in an Uber in Florida. Although Florida’s open container law, Florida statute 316.1936, has exceptions for passengers in commercial transportation vehicles, Uber and other ride-share services don’t qualify as commercial vehicles. For the most part, Uber drivers don’t have commercial driver’s licenses. Even when they do, ride-share services do not qualify as commercial transportation activities. It is not legal to drink in an Uber in Florida.Florida Open Container In Car

Can You Take a Bottle of Wine Home From a Restaurant in Florida?

Yes, you can take a bottle of wine home from a restaurant in Florida. Florida law 564.09 says that it’s okay to take wine home from a restaurant in Florida as long as you follow a few rules. [2] First, you must have a full meal at the restaurant. Second, you must transport the wine in a locked glove compartment or trunk. If there’s no trunk in the vehicle, then you can put the wine behind the last seat of the vehicle. As long as you follow the rules, you can take a bottle of wine home from a restaurant in Florida.

Can You Drink in Your Car on Private Property in Florida?

Yes, you can drink in your car on private property in Florida. However, it’s illegal to drink on a public street, alleyway, tunnel, sidewalk, ditch, or any area adjacent to the road that is part of a roadway. That makes it very important to ensure that you’re not on a road or any area adjacent to the road.

Even if you’re parked on the road or any area next to the road or part of the road, you’re in violation of the law. While you can drink in your car on private property in Florida, it’s up to you to ensure that you truly are on private property.

When Did the Open Container Law Pass in Florida?

The open container law passed in Florida in 1988. Lawmakers created a statewide open container law to have consistent open container laws followed and enforced throughout the state. The law has been amended since it was passed. Local authorities are able to pass more restrictive laws. Since it was passed in 1988, Florida’s open container law makes it illegal to have alcohol open and accessible to drink in a motor vehicle.

What Is the Penalty for an Open Container in Florida?

The penalty for open container in Florida is a non-moving traffic violation. The offender, whether they are a driver or a passenger, pays a fine. Florida law 318.14 states the penalties for non-moving traffic infractions, including open container. [3]

A person charged with a violation receives a summons to appear. If the person doesn’t accept the summons, they may face a misdemeanor charge and a bench warrant for their arrest. If the violation results in death, the offender may be ordered to serve community service in addition to paying a fine.

Open Container Laws and Civil Liability

Violating an open container law may amount to negligence under the law. Florida civil negligence rules presume that reasonable people follow the laws. When a person chooses to violate Florida’s open container laws, they are most certainly acting negligently. Negligence can be the basis for a civil lawsuit.

To recover financially, the victim must prove that negligence resulted in harm. The open container may be an essential part of explaining the defendant’s actions and how they fell short of legal standards. If you’ve been hurt in an accident involving an open container, an experienced attorney can explain how open container laws and civil liability may apply in your case.

Contact Our Tampa Injury Lawyers

If you’ve been in an accident, you have legal rights. Contact our attorneys for a free evaluation of your case. Let us help you build your case, including any factual scenarios that involve an open container. Our team has decades of experience fighting for the rights of accident victims. Call us today to talk about your case and learn how we can help you.

Sources

[1] FLA. STAT. § 316.1936 (2019)

[2] FLA. STAT. § 564.09 (2019)

[3] FLA. STAT. § 318.14 (2019)

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 36 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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