There are many reasons that people choose to take a ride share vehicle, such as an Uber or a Lyft. In some cases, they don’t want to have to deal with parking, in others they may have had too much to drink and want to avoid a DUI charge. But what happens if a person is in a ride share vehicle and has an open container? Is it still against the law?
Keep reading to find out more about open container laws in California and how they are charged. Then reach out to Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you have been charged with or accused of any type of crime. We can provide a free legal consultation to help you understand your options.
Understanding Open Container Laws in California
In the state of California, you cannot drive with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle with you. This is very strict and technically applies even to empty bottles you may be transporting to be recycled. Of course, you can have alcohol containers in a vehicle but they must be both sealed and unopened. If they are not, then they must be stored in the trunk while the vehicle is in motion.
Consequences for Breaking Open Container Laws
If a passenger is caught with an open container, they are not going to be facing the serious consequences the driver would, but they can be fined $250. In fact, the driver can be fined $250 even if they were not drinking but a passenger had an open container. For the driver, there is another potentially expensive issue: Their car insurance rates may go up because their insurance company may seem them as a bigger risk.
There Are Exceptions to the Law
There is one main exception to the law: Taxis, private buses, limos, and other hired vehicles can legally allow passengers to have open containers. Under today’s legal standards, an Uber and Lyft can be considered part of this category. Some may argue that because the car is not just used for the purposes of commercial transportation, but is likely the driver’s personal car too, open container laws should apply to them.
The Real Issue is Uber and Lyft Rules
While no one is likely to get arrested for an open container in an Uber or Lyft vehicle – and likely won’t even get fined – there is one piece of the puzzle to keep in mind: Both Uber and Lyft have rules that disallow open containers in their vehicles. If the driver is found to be allowing passengers to bring in open containers, they run the risk of being deactivated from the platform.
At the end of the day, you are not going to get arrested for an open container in a Lyft or Uber. It is technically possible to get a fined, but the most likely result is that the driver simply won’t allow you into their car. If you are facing any charges related to these or other cases, contact a criminal defense attorney by calling Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.