ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Open Container Violations: A Lawyer's Guide

Updated on December 21, 2014

Caught Drinking in Public?

A Likely Open Container Violation
A Likely Open Container Violation

What is an Open Container Ticket?

Under the laws of most states, including New York, it is illegal to carry an open alcoholic beverage in public. Frequently confused with public intoxication, an open container violation does not require you to be drunk or even to be drinking. In many states, the law presumes that if you have an open container of alcohol, you are drinking from it, and the burden is on you to prove otherwise.

In some states, an open container violation is a misdemeanor and in other states it is a violation. The primary difference between a violation and a misdemeanor is that a misdemeanor is a crime and if convicted, you may have difficulty obtaining federal student loans, getting a job, or becoming a United States citizen (if not already naturalized). However, a violation is not without repercussions. In New York, an open container violation is punishable by a fine not greater than $25 but also up to fifteen days in jail!

The good news is that while the police take these "quality of life" crimes and violations seriously, many judges are keenly aware of the fact that people -- particularly young people -- often make mistakes, and shouldn't have to pay for those mistakes for the rest of their lives over such a minor infraction.

Before Court: Open Container Guidelines

The good news is that if you are charged with violating the Open Container of Alcohol statute (10-125 (b)) of the Administrative Code, the judges in New York City will usually limit the punishment to the aforementioned $25 fine. The bad news -- especially for college students and visitors from out of town -- is that your appearance in court is mandatory if you fail to return the summons with payment within ten (10) days of receiving it. If you fail to either send in payment within the required time period or show up in court, a bench warrant will be issued by the judge for your arrest. Even though the open container charge is minor and would not affect immigration or international travel, the bench warrant is not! An outstanding bench warrant can be grounds to detain international passengers at airport detention facilities in the United States and to deny immigration authorization to foreigners seeking to enter the U.S.


Which Court Do I Go To?

99% of all Brooklyn and Manhattan Open Container cases are handled at 346 Broadway in lower Manhattan. The entrance to this court is on Leonard Street and you will need to go to the upper lobby (up the stairs). There are only two courtrooms -- one for Manhattan cases and the other for Brooklyn cases.

Queens and Bronx cases of this type are handled at the summons parts in the criminal courts of those respective counties.

Fighting the Open Container Ticket

Ok, so you decided not to send in payment. What now?

First, you need to know that on the back side of the original summons is a space for the police officer to indicate the exact nature of the container you were in possession of. This space is on the back of the original -- NOT your pink copy -- and you won't have an opportunity to inspect it until you get to the court.

Second, even though the law requires the police officer to indicate with specificity the type of alcoholic container used in violation of the law, some judges (judicial hearing officers) do not require this information. In any event, the key items to look for are the following:

  1. The type of container (i.e. can or bottle or cup)
  2. The size of the container (i.e. 12 oz, 1l, one gallon)
  3. The brand of the container (i.e. Coors Light, Budweiser, Corona)

The failure by the police officer to indicate any of the above three elements is grounds for a dismissal in most criminal courts and summons parts!

Furthermore, the summons must indicate that the defendant was in possession of the container AND that it was OPEN. It is not against the law to carry a closed container of alcohol on the streets of New York City!


Hiring a Lawyer

For most defendants, hiring a lawyer for your Open Container of Alcohol violation is unnecessary because of the fact that it's only a $25 fine and it's just a violation. However, for those who wish to attempt to keep their record clean (and avoid having to answer YES to job questions about having pled guilty to anything), hiring a lawyer may be a wise investment -- especially for students with their careers ahead of them. If you would like to speak with a NYC Open Container lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your options, please click here.

About the Author

Author and criminal defense lawyer Jason Stern has been handling criminal cases in New York City since 1995. He has been quoted or featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, ABC, Good Morning America and dozens of other media outlets. He still finds time to provide free telephone consultations for all HubPages readers.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)