Philadelphia Open Container Citation Defense Lawyer
Pennsylvania has strict rules when it comes to driving with open alcohol containers. State laws also prohibit open alcohol containers in public spaces such as parks and other city-owned places without express permission. This law extends to sidewalks and streets in Philadelphia, among other public locations. People found guilty of breaching Pennsylvania’s open container laws are at risk of facing costly penalties, making it critical to work with an experienced defense lawyer for open container citations.
The Law Offices of Lloyd Long has the necessary tools and experience to handle your open container case. For years, Philadelphia defense attorney Lloyd Long has dedicated his practice to provide aggressive, high-quality representation to clients facing traffic citations. He is ready to commit fully to your case, working tirelessly to obtain the best possible outcome. For a free consultation about an open container citation in Philadelphia, contact the Law Offices of Lloyd Long online, or call (215) 302-0171 today.
Open Container Laws in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s open container law makes illegal the transportation of opened alcohol containers while operating a vehicle. This law also extends to any passengers riding in the car. As stated in 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3809(a), anyone “who is an operator or an occupant in a motor vehicle may not be in possession of an open alcoholic beverage container,” including beer, wine, and hard alcohol. Under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3809(b), exceptions may apply to limousines, taxis, and buses.
An open container violation is a “summary offense” in Pennsylvania. A summary offense is the lowest level of criminal offense in Pennsylvania, followed by misdemeanors, which are more serious, and felonies, which are the most severe crimes. The penalties for a summary offense in Pennsylvania, such as an open container violation, can include a fine of up to $300 and a sentence of up to 90 days in jail. The penalties can be enhanced if there are additional crimes involved in the offense. For instance, if you are pulled over by an officer and found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI), you would face more severe consequences.
Fines for Open Container Violations in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Ordinance 10-604 sets forth the rules for open containers within the county. Essentially, this ordinance prohibits the transporting, carrying, or consuming alcoholic beverages in any city-owned property, unless the person has written permission from the city. The open container statute also extends to the public right-of-way – such as public streets, sidewalks, and alleys – in addition to private property.
Penalties for violating the ordinance include fines and possible incarceration. Depending on the nature of the violation, the fine may range anywhere from $50 to $300, while a jail sentence may range from 10 days to as many as 90 days.
DUI and Public Intoxication in Philadelphia
Containers of alcohol must be transported in the vehicle’s trunk, where they are beyond the physical reach of the driver and his or her passengers. If a police officer detains you and finds an open alcohol container in an accessible location, meaning a location other than the vehicle’s trunk, you can receive a citation. In addition, if you are caught drinking while driving, are too intoxicated to operate your vehicle safely, or your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher, you could be charged with DUI, which is a more serious matter. Depending on your BAC, whether you have a history of prior offenses, and other factors, DUI offenses can result in jail sentences ranging from two days to five years, and fines ranging from $300 to $10,000, among other penalties.
Drinking and driving is not the only punishable offense that involves alcohol. Even if you are caught under the influence of alcohol in a non-traffic scenario, such as while you are walking in Center City, you could be charged with public drunkenness or public intoxication. Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5505, you commit public drunkenness, which is a summary offense, if you appear to be “manifestly” (obviously) under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances. If found guilty of public drunkenness, you will have to pay hefty fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 depending on whether it is a first, second, or subsequent offense.
Philadelphia Defense Lawyer for DUI and Open Container Violations
Driving a vehicle while having an open container of alcohol is illegal in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, as is public drunkenness. If you are facing open container citations, DUI charges, or related charges in Philadelphia, you need assistance from a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense lawyer who can fight on your behalf. If you or a loved one is facing open container charges, call the Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171, or contact us online for a free legal consultation today. Calls are answered 24 hours.