Alcohol and driving simply do not mix. Driving with any alcohol in your system is extremely dangerous as it impairs your ability to drive safely. However, it is not inherently illegal to have alcohol in your car while you are driving. Whether driving home from the liquor store or bringing a bottle of wine to a party, people transport alcohol in their vehicles all the time. Law enforcement officials are constantly on the lookout for intoxicated drivers, and an open or empty bottle of alcohol in your car may get you into trouble.
Open bottles of alcohol in your car do not directly lead to DUI charges in Utah. According to the statute that governs DUIs, an open or empty alcohol bottle is not required for a driver to be charged and arrested. However, driving with an open bottle of alcohol in your car is a violation on its own and may lead to criminal penalties. If there are any other indications that a driver has been drinking, like erratic driving or slurred speech, a police officer may believe the bottle is empty because the driver is drunk and arrest them for a DUI.
If the police stopped you with empty alcohol bottles in your car and now you are facing charges for a DUI or other offenses, call our legal team for assistance. Our Park City Utah DUI defense attorneys can help you challenge the charges against you. Set up a free, confidential legal consultation at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.
Can Empty Alcohol Bottles Lead to DUI Charges in Utah?
Having an open container or empty bottle of alcohol in your car will not necessarily lead to DUI charges in Utah. According to the Utah Traffic Code § 41-6a-526, it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol inside your vehicle. However, an open container alone is not sufficient grounds for DUI charges. According to the Utah Traffic Code § 41-6s-502, which governs DUIs, an open or empty bottle is not an element of a DUI.
Even though an empty bottle of alcohol on its own will not result in DUI charges, it may contribute to the police’s belief that the driver is intoxicated, and police may establish the probable cause necessary to arrest that driver for a DUI. Even if the police do not have probable cause to support DUI charges, they may still charge you for a separate offense for the empty alcohol bottles. Open containers of alcohol are prohibited and must be kept out of reach of drivers. Open container violations and DUI charges are also commonly associated with other driving offenses and charges.
If you are in trouble with the law for having empty alcohol bottles in your car, contact our Salt Lake City Utah DUI defense lawyers today. We can help you before the situation gets out of hand.
How Empty Alcohol Bottles Contribute to Probable Cause for DUI Charges in Utah
A driver cannot be charged with a DUI simply for having open containers or empty bottles of alcohol in their car. However, empty alcohol bottles may contribute to the large body of probable cause necessary to support a DUI arrest. Probable cause is hard to pin down and is not explicitly defined by law. It is required to make any arrest and prevents the police from executing arbitrary or unlawful arrests based on no evidence.
Generally, probable cause must include evidence or proof that a crime has occurred and the suspect is the likely culprit. Probable cause must be more than mere intuition or a hunch. Probable cause must include articulable proof to support an arrest.
The requirements for probable cause will vary for different offenses. For DUIs, probable cause could include things like erratic driving, a driver’s slurred speech, failing field sobriety tests, and empty bottles of alcohol inside the car. If you exhibit any signs of intoxication, a police officer may combine that information with the empty bottles in your car and establish enough probable cause to arrest you for a DUI.
If you are facing DUI charges after being stopped with empty alcohol bottles in your car, call our Riverton DUI defense lawyers for help today.
Criminal Penalties for Having Empty Alcohol Bottles in Your Car in Utah
Even if you are not charged with a DUI, the empty alcohol bottles in your car are still prohibited and may lead to other penalties. Empty alcohol bottles may violate Utah’s laws against open containers inside vehicles. An open container is any alcohol container, including bottles, cans, or cups, that is open or unsealed. It does not matter if a container is totally empty or nearly full.
Charges for violations of open container laws are relatively minor and are charged as Class C misdemeanors. A defendant could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750. To be charged, the open containers must be within reach of the driver. This usually means somewhere near the driver seat or in the front passenger seat. To avoid an open container violation, keep any alcohol in the back seat or the trunk of your car. If you are charged with an open container violation, our Sandy DUI defense attorneys can help.
Other Charges Connected to Empty Alcohol Bottles in Utah
Charges for open container violations are often associated with other, more serious offenses. Although it is possible to be charged solely for empty bottles of alcohol, it is very common to be charged with additional offenses. Common offenses connected to open container violations include DUIs. DUIs may be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on your case. If you are involved in a car accident with empty alcohol bottles in your car, you may face criminal charges for any injuries. Call our South Jordan DUI defense attorneys for help now.
Call Our Utah DUI Defense Lawyers
If you are facing charges related to empty alcohol bottles in your car, our Utah DUI defense lawyers might be able to help. Get in touch with our offices to get started fighting your charges. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to set up a free, confidential legal consultation.