Ringsmuth, Day & O’Halloran, PLLC - Fort Myers Criminal Defense
Former Prosecutors

Leaving a restaurant with a partially consumed bottle of wine

It's almost that time of year when college students throughout the nation come to Florida to enjoy a little R & R during spring break. If you plan to be among this year's vacationers, you've probably already begun making plans. In addition to booking hotel rooms, contacting friends who will be traveling with you, and creating a rough itinerary of how you'll spend your time when you arrive, you might also want to do a little research regarding various types of laws, just in case a problem arises while you're here.

It's no secret that many young adults like to go to beach parties and restaurants as they kick back for some fun in the sun over the holidays. It's not uncommon for such social occasions to include a bit of wine or other alcoholic beverages. Sometimes, this sort of indulgence leads to problems for people who get pulled over while driving after drinking or who face other situations with police that are alcohol-related.

Beware the open container law

Florida is one of approximately 40 states that have specific laws regarding open containers of alcohol in public. In particular, such laws often pertain to motor vehicles. The last thing you need while celebrating your spring break from school is to wind up in jail because you got into your friend's car with a half-drunk bottle of wine. Keeping the following in mind might help prevent problems:

  • It is legal, under certain circumstances, to take a partially consumed bottle of wine you purchased at a restaurant off the premises. (Anyone planning on doing so will want to research the stipulations involved under the law.)
  • Most open container laws pertain not only to drivers but also to passengers in motor vehicles as well.
  • Even if an open bottle of wine is legally removed from restaurant property, it generally must be secured in a locked glove compartment, trunk or other legally designated area once inside a motor vehicle.
  • Open container laws regarding motor vehicles also pertain to buses and mobile homes.

It's one thing to want to take your bottle of wine back to your hotel because you already paid for it and want to finish enjoying it later.  It's quite another to finish out your evening behind bars because, while you were sipping your wine in the backseat, the driver of your vehicle got pulled over, and you were arrested for allegedly violating an open container law. If this has already happened to you, you might be wondering what options are available to minimize the negative consequences of the situation.

Spring break only lasts a few weeks. It can be extremely stressful to have your return to school for the final semester interrupted by court appointments and legal issues that occurred while you were visiting Florida. The farther away you live, the more complicated your situation might become. To help alleviate stress and rectify the situation in the most timely and economically feasible way possible, you might want to take the same route other college students have done in the past by enlisting the help of an experienced defense attorney.

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