While springtime brings pleasant weather to the Mesa area, a brutal summer is just around the corner. To stay cool behind the wheel, you may be thinking about bringing a cold beer with you. Doing so, though, is a mistake.
In the Grand Canyon State, it is illegal to have an open container of booze in your vehicle. If you violate the law, you face up to four months in jail. You may also have to pay a steep fine. Because Arizona law includes some special considerations and exceptions, though, you must understand the open container rule to protect your legal rights.
The open container law is intentionally broad, applying to beer, wine, malt liquor, spirits, mixed drinks and related beverages. While it is not illegal to transport an unopened container, carrying one with a broken seal is impermissible. Furthermore, even having recorked bottles of wine inside your vehicle likely violates the state’s open container law.
While Arizona’s open container law has broad applicability, there are some exceptions. For example, you can legally have an open container of alcohol in the living area of a motor home or recreational vehicle. Also, if you are a passenger, you may carry an open container in a taxi, limousine or transportation-network vehicle.
While carrying an open container in a vehicle is enough to face criminal charges, doing so may cause additional problems. If an officer stops you, he or she may use your open container as a reason to ask you to perform a field sobriety test. Alternatively, the officer may request a breath sample to measure your blood alcohol concentration.
Even though having an open container in your vehicle may seem harmless, it is a misdemeanor in Arizona. Put simply, if you do not want to have a criminal record, you should leave the booze at home, the restaurant or the bar. Nonetheless, by understanding the ins and outs of state law, you can better assert your legal rights.