CA Vehicle Code 23222(a)

Open Container in a Moving Vehicle

What is an ‘Open Container’ charge in California?

California Vehicle Code 23222(a) is a possession of open container containing alcoholic beverage while driving a motor vehicle.

CA VC 23222(a) makes it illegal to have in your possession while driving a motor vehicle any bottle, can, or other receptacle, that contains any alcoholic beverage which has been opened, has its seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.

Possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle is an infraction, and you can’t receive jail time as a result. You are also not entitled to a trail by jury, and you are not eligible for a public defender. You will be fined up to $250 if found guilty of CA VC 23222(a).

However, if you are also being charged with Driving Under the Influence, the judge can use your possession of an open container to influence the penalties you might face, including jail time.

Prosecuting an open container case

In order to convict you under CA VC 23222(a), the prosecution must prove that you had an open container in a motor vehicle that contained alcohol. They also must prove that you were driving on a highway or on lands, as described by VC 23220(b). This includes lands that are “open and accessible to the public, except private lands under the immediate control of the owner or his or her agent where permission is required and has been granted to operate a motor vehicle.”

Defending against an open container charge

There are few defenses against VC 23222(a).  One defense against an open container charge is if the alcohol was in the truck of your vehicle. However, it is important to note that an open container of alcohol cannot be legally kept in the passenger compartment of your vehicle. If it is, you can be charged with possession of an open container. Another defense is if the open container was found during an illegal search of your vehicle. If this is the case, it is very important to contact a skilled defense attorney immediately to discuss your case. It is also necessary to hire a defense attorney if you are being charged with a DUI in addition to an open container infraction.

We Want to Help

If you or a loved one is being charged with Open Container in California, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone. Our experienced and assiduous attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.

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References

23222(a) No person shall have in his or her possession on his or her person, while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle, containing any alcoholic beverage which has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.

CA PC 19.6 (Infractions)
CA PC 19.8 (Infractions; fines)

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