What Is Florida’s Open Container Law?

A person holding an open container of beer while driving down the road.

Florida open container laws prohibit drivers and passengers from having open and available alcohol in their vehicles. Laws banning open containers in Florida cover moving cars and vehicles parked on or adjacent to any public road.

Open container laws vary slightly between states. All drivers need to understand what the law is in their location. Our Tampa 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. That includes any beverage with a broken seal that is available for consumption.

In Florida, an open container violation is a non-moving traffic violation punishable by a fine. You cannot lawfully have an open container in the State of Florida.

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What Is the Florida Open Container Law?

Open container law Florida Statute 316.1936 states the following:

  • Prohibits driving or riding in a motor vehicle while in possession of an open alcoholic beverage
  • 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”
  • Applies to any public road and in the areas adjacent to the road like the sidewalks, ditches, and alleyways

Under this law, 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?

car-passengers-drinking

No, passengers cannot consume an alcoholic beverage in a car in Florida. Drinking alcohol in a vehicle is a form of possessing alcohol. Although some may assume they can drink as a passenger because they are not actually operating the vehicle, it is still illegal. When you drink alcohol in a car in Florida, you violate Florida law 316.1936.

Passengers who drink alcohol in a car in Florida commit a non-moving traffic violation, 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 or Lyft in Florida?

No, you can’t drink alcohol in an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare vehicles in Florida. However, Florida law has exceptions for passengers in commercial transportation vehicles, Uber and other rideshare services don’t qualify as commercial vehicles.

For the most part, rideshare drivers don’t have commercial driver’s licenses. Even if a driver holds a valid commercial driver’s license, rideshare services do not qualify as commercial transportation activities.

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:

  1. You must have a full meal at the restaurant.
  2. You must transport the wine in a locked glove compartment or trunk. 
  3. If there’s no trunk in the vehicle, you can put the wine behind the last seat of the car. 

As long as you follow the rules, you can take a bottle of wine home from a restaurant in Florida.

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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.

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

When Did the Open Container Law Pass in Florida?

Florida passed the open container law in Florida in 1988. Lawmakers created a statewide law to have consistent open container regulations followed and enforced throughout the state. However, the law has been amended since it was passed.

What Is the Penalty for an Open Container in Florida?

police-writing-ticket

The penalty for an open bottle, can, or other receptacle in Florida is a non-moving traffic violation. Whether they are a driver or a passenger, the offender pays a fine. Florida law 318.14 states the penalties for non-moving traffic infractions, including open container violations.

  • 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.

Can You Sue Somebody Who Violated Open Container Laws and Caused an Accident?

Violating these regulations 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 undoubtedly acting negligently, which 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.

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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.