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Open Containers

Let’s say you’ve spend a Saturday afternoon at a friend’s lakeside cabin and you’re ready to drive home. You have already had a couple of beers and you just opened another bottle before hitting the road. What should you do?

Toss the beer and drive home only after you have sobered up. Just like you should never get behind the wheel while drinking alcohol or using any kind of drug, you also shouldn’t drive with any open container of liquor, wine or beer in your vehicle.

And it’s not just that you shouldn’t do it. It’s against the law.

An experienced DWI lawyer such as Michael Anzalone will tell you that it’s simply against the law to drink and drive or to drive and carry an open container of alcohol in your vehicle.

New Hampshire statute RSA 265-A:44 is quite specific. The state law defines beverage as any “beer, wine, similar fermented malt or vinous liquors and fruit juices and any liquid intended for human consumption as a beverage having an alcoholic content of not less than ½ of one percent by volume and not more than 6 percent alcohol by volume at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.” Likewise, liquor is defined by the state as “all distilled and rectified spirits, alcohol, wines, fermented and malt liquors and cider, of over 6 percent alcoholic content by volume at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.”

These two long passages can be boiled down to this: NEVER put an open container of alcohol in your vehicle and drive.

This is especially true in New Hampshire, where police officers are always on the prowl for drunk or impaired drivers.

A DWI attorney, such as Michael Anzalone, will advise that if you are stopped by a police officer and found to have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, you will face a fine and possibly a suspension of your driver’s license.

There are some exceptions in the law. For example, if you have to transport an open container of liquor, you need to make sure it is securely capped and you’ll have to carry it in the trunk of your vehicle. If the vehicle doesn’t have a “trunk,” you’ll have to carry it in a place that is not accessible to the driver.

The rules also apply to any passenger in your vehicle. So, if you are stopped and a passenger has an open container of alcohol, you and the passenger can be charged with a violation.

There are exceptions, which include passengers in chartered buses, taxis and limousines where the driver doesn’t have access to the alcohol.

If you have been charged with an open container violation, you’ll need to seek the legal advice of experienced DWI/DUI attorney Michael Anzalone.

Anzalone and his team of legal experts at The Anzalone Law Firm in Nashua, New Hampshire, can give you the kind of legal advice that will put this matter behind you quickly.

If you’d like to have a free consultation about your case, fill out this online form or call Michael Anzalone at 603-548-3797.

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