Open Container Lawyer in Lake Worth
While DUI is the most common alcohol-vehicle related offense, Open Container is a close second. Open Container is defined by Florida Statute as “any container of alcoholic beverage which is immediately capable of being consumed from, or the seal of which has been broken.” F.S. §316.1936. A Florida driver or passenger possessing an open container in a vehicle can be charged with an infraction by state law, or a criminal municipal or county ordinance.
Why should you hire an open container attorney in Lake Worth?
Whether you are criminally or civilly charged with Open Container, you should take the allegation seriously. The prospect of facing hefty fines and/or jail time is enough for most to pay attention to the charge. Because your money, record and freedom are potentially at stake, it is usually best to fight your ticket with the help of an open container attorney.
An open container attorney is usually a criminal defense or traffic attorney with experience in handling criminal charges, noncriminal infractions, and city and county ordinance violations. An attorney skilled in open container cases will know what to do in terms of reviewing the citation for police errors, negotiating with the prosecution or law enforcement, and presenting an argument before a judge, magistrate or traffic hearing officer. The legal and practical skills of an open container attorney should give you the advantage you need in seeking a desirable result.
How can an attorney help with an open container charge?
A lawyer with criminal and traffic defense experience can dissect an open container charge and determine whether the police committed any legal or procedural errors that merit a motion to dismiss. An open container lawyer also looks for factual insufficiencies to analyze whether the government can meet its burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt). Depending on the strength or weakness of the case, the attorney could take certain actions such as negotiating a plea, filing motions to dismiss or motions to suppress evidence, or take the matter to trial. The particularized knowledge of an open container attorney is critical in making the right tactical move on your case.
What you should do if you get charged with open container in Florida
If you get arrested or cited for Open Container, remain silent and contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. Don’t pay the ticket or take any plea until you receive experienced counsel and representation. Make sure you take active steps to secure your open container attorney within a couple of weeks of receiving the citation to ensure attendance in court and avoidance of a warrant or extra fees.
The initial facts you should gather are the date and time of your first court hearing, whether your case is criminal or a noncriminal infraction, and whether your lawyer can waive your presence in court. A waiver of your presence in court is another benefit to hiring an attorney, as you would not have to stress in an unfamiliar environment or miss work.
What you need to know about open container charges in Palm Beach
Palm Beach County law enforcement has the power to charge you with a state, county, or city violation of open container. If the citation is based on a city or county ordinance, your open container ticket may be a criminal charge, punishable by jail in addition to a fine. If the citation references the Florida Statutes, the violation is likely a noncriminal state infraction. For drivers, an Open Container conviction is a moving violation that carries points on your driving record. For passengers, Open Container is a nonmoving violation. Regardless of the specific ordinance or statute, an open container charge can have adverse consequences and should be dealt with accordingly.
It is important to mention that, while we have been focused on discussing Open Container charges with respect to alcohol in vehicles, you can also receive an open container ticket for violations that do not involve your car. Counties and cities in Florida have their own laws against possessing alcohol near commercial establishments and other public places. This is especially true in Palm Beach County, where tourism and nightlife are booming.
Choosing an experienced Florida open container lawyer
When selecting representation for your open container case, you should consider experience in all of its forms. Knowledge of the law is not the only factor that makes an excellent lawyer; understanding local administrative rules, policies, and personnel can make or break your case. Look for an attorney who has previously handled many open container cases in your area, has a great reputation and great reviews.
Attorneys who handle open container cases are generally criminal defense or traffic ticket lawyers. Some defense attorneys were previously prosecutors and have the additional advantage of perspective from the opposing side. Hiring a criminal defense or traffic lawyer who is a former prosecutor is a smart way to understand the “enemy.”
Florida open container attorney FAQs:
How much does an open container lawyer cost in Florida?
Representation fees for an open container charge vary depending on an attorney’s level of experience and whether the case is a state infraction or local ordinance violation. For an accurate price quote, you should schedule a consultation with an open container lawyer.
How do I choose an open container lawyer?
There are many factors to consider when choosing an open container lawyer. Beyond the obvious need for a lawyer who knows open container laws, you would also benefit from a lawyer who knows local practices and people. A lawyer from your area who understands the personalities of each judge and prosecutor can better negotiate with the government and more effectively argue in court.
Is an open container charge a DUI in Florida?
An open container charge is separate and apart from a DUI charge in Florida. A law enforcement officer can cite you for an open container violation even if you are not under the influence of alcohol. Similarly, you may be arrested for DUI without receiving a citation for open container. However, many DUI charges come with an additional open container charge after a DUI stop and arrest lead to a vehicle search.