New York’s Open Container Law | VTL § 1227

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What Is New York’s Open Container Law?

English: One 23.5 ounce can of the Four Loko a...

Almost all throughout the United States, open container laws in general are made to prohibit drinking alcoholic beverages in either public places such as public parks or streets and semi-private areas such as automobiles.  Each open container law is enforced and regulated by each individual state, however the federal government pushed to encourage each to state to legislate on the issue by passing the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (or TEA-21).

TEA-21 outlines the suggestions that each State should adopt with respect to open container laws and it is incentivized with federal grant money. States that adopt the guidelines are granted federal grants for state roadway funds.  As such 39 states have adopted the terms of the Act and implement their own open container Laws.

New York is one of the 39 states that have its own open container law.  In New York the open container laws prohibits consuming or possessing open alcoholic containers in public areas and any open alcohol containers in the passenger area or inside an unlocked glove box or armrest where it can easily be reached by anyone sitting inside the vehicle.  The law includes all alcoholic beverages within any type of container.   It should be noted that the law applies whether you are actually driving the vehicle or the car is parked outside.

What Are The Fines And Penalties For Violating New York’s Open Container Law?

Although the basic open container fine in New York includes a nominal fee of $25 or imprisonment for up to (5) days, and is charged as a violation (non-criminal offense), the reality is that in many cases the charges can be elevated to coincide with another charge.  It’s important to deal with the matter seriously and make sure the case is handled so that there can be no further exposure to penalties including jail time in the future.

NYC Admin Code § 10-125 also states that possession of an open container containing an alcoholic beverage by any person shall create a rebuttable presumption that such person did intend to consume the contents thereof in violation of this section.  Think of it this way, if a police officer finds an open bottle either on your person in public or in your vehicle while you were driving, the officer most likely will conclude that you were drinking and further investigate the matter.  As such open container violations in New York are considered by many as a gateway offense that can lead to other violations or crimes.

What Should I Do If I Am Charged With An Open Container Violation?

First you should remember not to carry an open bottle of alcohol in public or transport it within the passenger cabin of your vehicle.  If an officer does stop you and issue you a citation for an open container violation, don’t say anything further which may incriminate yourself in front of the police.  If you sense that the issue might bring about more trouble then don’t hesitate to speak to an experienced New York open container lawyer.  Call the defense attorneys at The Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-883-5529 if you have been charged with an open container violation.

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This post was written by Adam Rosenblum

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