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Can passengers in my car drink alcohol while I drive?

Shouldn't passengers in your car be able to drink alcoholic beverages? Unfortunately, even though they are not directly operating your car, because of Ohio's open container laws, passengers in vehicles cannot consume alcoholic beverages. Open container laws prohibit the transportation within your vehicle of any open containers of alcohol.

There are only a couple of exceptions to this rule. If the alcohol is a bottle of wine, you can carry it in the trunk if you have recorked or or replaced the cap on the bottle. Also, in some cases, people who hire limosene drivers and chauffers may drink in the backseat of vehicles, if they have signed a contract on the matter in advance.

Otherwise, if passengers are drinking -- or even just holding -- an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, the driver could be charged with an open container violation in Ohio. Therefore, as a responsible driver, it's important to understand and follow these laws to avoid an arrest.

Sometimes, police accuse drivers of an open container violation in addition to drunk driving. This happens when police claim that they found an open container in the vehicle during the time of arrest. In fact, it's a fairly common accusation. Combining charges like this serves to elevate the severity of drunk driving punishments in the event of a conviction.

If police charged you with an open container or drunk driving violation, our Ohio criminal defense law firm can help you navigate your criminal defense proceedings. We will examine the facts surrounding your case and advise you of your best next steps.

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