Understanding Georgia’s Open Container Law

drinking and driving

drinking and drivingHollywood actor, Vince Vaughn was recently convicted of reckless driving after failing a sobriety test when he was pulled over in 2018. Vaughn pled no contest to the charges when he went before a judge in a Los Angeles Superior Court.

The arrest came after the actor was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint in Manhattan Beach. Reports show that Vaughn refused police orders to exit his vehicle after multiple requests from the officers, and then ultimately failed both a field sobriety test and a blood-alcohol test.

In Georgia, as well as every other state in the U.S., driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. Georgia law prohibits driving or being in physical control of a vehicle:

  • When a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher (0.04 if under a certain age)
  • While under the influence of any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance which makes the person less safe to drive.

Understanding Georgia’s Open Container Law

Georgia’s open container law states that a person cannot consume alcohol or possess any alcoholic beverage in an open container in the passenger area of a vehicle when that vehicle is on any roadway or shoulder of a public highway. You may be surprised to know that this law applies to both drivers and passengers. This includes any bottle, can, or other containers that are open, have a broken seal, or have a container with alcohol where a portion of the contents has been removed.

If found in violation of Georgia’s open container law, a person can face a maximum fine of up to $200. However, if convicted of a DUI, the consequences are much steeper.

Georgia criminal laws are some of the harshest around when it comes to DUI offenses, even if it’s your first offense. Failure to consent to chemical testing after being pulled over could result in the suspension of your license due to implied consent laws.

These laws allow police officers and the courts to impose infractions on a driver who is was under reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence. Other penalties could include having your license revoked, mandatory alcohol education and treatment, vehicle confiscation, and being required to have an ignition interlock device placed on your car; not to mention the countless fines and fees.

Any person who is involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver is allowed to recover compensatory damages from the individual at fault. Compensatory damages are designed to cover the actual damages incurred from the accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and a victim’s pain and suffering. In addition to compensatory damages, persons injured by a drunk driver can receive punitive damages.

Punitive damages can only be granted in a case where the accident was the result of one party being impaired by drugs or alcohol. This form of compensation for a victim is meant to punish the defendant for their reckless behavior. To recover punitive damages in a drunk driving case, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the accident occurred because of the other party’s willful misconduct. Punitive damages are only available in personal injury cases, and cannot be collected as part of a wrongful death claim.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and can turn the lives of everyone involved completely upside down. We are passionate and dedicated to representing victims of drunk driving crashes. Please contact Butler Kahn if you want to discuss the drunk driving case that involved you or your family member. We’re here to give you the help and support you need.

Picture of Matt Kahn
Matt Kahn is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer and a partner at the law firm Butler Kahn. Matt has dedicated his career to fighting for individuals and families who had been harmed by the negligence of others. At Butler Kahn, he has had the honor of helping families who have lost children in motor vehicle accidents and people who were critically injured. He helped a family secure a $45 million settlement to provide lifetime care for their son, who was critically injured in a motorcycle accident. Matt is a graduate of Emory University School of Law and has been recognized as a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star and by Best Lawyers as One to Watch. He has received an Avvo 10.0 Top Attorney rating. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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