North Carolina Open Container Laws
Open container laws are regulated by the states and the federal government. Many states have decided to mandate some open container laws because the federal government has created incentives for doing so.
For instance, the federal government created the TEA-21 (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century). The TEA-21 has an overview of guidelines concerning having open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles. While the TEA-21 is meant to be “voluntary,” states are finding it very beneficial to follow the guidelines of this act. If a state follows the guidelines as outlined in the act, they will continue to receive federal funding for their highways. If the state chooses not to follow the guidelines, a portion of their roadway funds will instead be diverted to go to alcohol education programs.
As you probably guessed, many states want to receive this funding so they tend to comply with this act. Up until relatively recently, passengers could drink beer and non-fortified wine in the passenger area of the vehicle as long as the driver had not consumed any amount of alcohol. North Carolina joined other states around the country to make ANY open container an offense. The penalty for a passenger open container is less than if the driver of a vehicle is drinking and driving.
Because the State of North Carolina complies with the TEA-21 act, driving with an open alcohol container is a serious crime with possible long term effects and penalties, especially for the driver of a motor vehicle. Don’t let the state convict you without first arming yourself with an experienced DWI defense attorney – contact Bill Powers today.