Simply having a bottle of alcohol that is open or having the seal off could get you arrested for DUI (Driving under the Influence) in Las Vegas and Nevada. This works primarily against drivers but passengers can also be charged depending on the situation. Read more about open container laws in Nevada as stated in Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) to get you ready for defense in case it becomes the cause of your criminal case in the future.
Open container laws in Nevada according to NRS
Section 484B.150 of the NRS defines an open container as “a container which has been opened or the seal of which has been broken.” Basically, these are bottles and cans of alcohol as specified by NRS 202.015 without their cap or top. And even without you evidently consuming them, it is still illegal to have them in that state. The section added that “it is unlawful for a person to have an open container of an alcoholic beverage within the passenger area of a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is upon a highway.”
This applies directly to drivers or anyone of control of the vehicle and passengers to some extent. The reason is that many vehicles are designed for the purpose of letting passengers drink such as a limousine.
Exclusions of open container laws in Nevada
With the previous notion pointed out, passengers of limousines or coaches can be exempted of being charged of DUI in Las Vegas as their positions give them the right to risk intoxication. Still according to NRS 484B.150, the offense of having an open container in the passenger area “does not apply to a motor vehicle which is designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, or to the living quarters of a house coach or house trailer.” With that, passengers in mobile homes or RVs can drink as much as they want as long it is moderate and they would not cause harm to the driver and the other passengers.
Keep in mind that there’s no exception for drivers. Even if you are a driver of a permitted vehicle, you still cannot drink or have an open container lying an arm’s length away. For vehicles that are not excluded from the open container laws in Nevada, both the driver and the passenger could be indicted if an open container is found in the passenger area which is the area where drivers and passengers should occupy.
Penalties of open container laws violation
There are many ways to be arrested for an offense to the open container laws in Nevada. Police officers can spot open containers during checkpoints or when they pull you over for other offenses. When you are already intoxicated by the open container alcoholic beverages, the way you drive will provide the probable cause for the police to stop your vehicle and look for potential open container laws violation.
Regardless of the process of your arrest, the penalties will remain the same. Since the charges would be DUI in Las Vegas and Nevada, the punishments would be under misdemeanor for a first offense which might include up to six months in jail and fines that should not exceed $1,000. Community service can also be included which could double up if the open container offense was done in a work zone or a pedestrian.
Defenses against open container charges
For open container cases in Nevada, you could challenge the accuracy of the pieces of evidence. For instance, you can say that there are really no open containers or any alcoholic beverage in the vehicle at all. You could also point out that the vehicle you are using permits the passengers or the automobile itself to have any open container lying around. The open container’s location is also something you can bring up. Assert that the bottle or can is somewhere else that is not within your reach such as the trunk.
If you have not realized already, drunk driving is strictly prohibited in Nevada and just having a bottle of alcohol without its cap can mean serious consequences for you. Be vigilant while driving. If you see a passenger holding an open container, better remind them of what could happen to all of you if you are caught by law enforcement. If it is too late to prevent an arrest and you are already facing charges, it is best to have a DUI in Las Vegas attorney by your side.