If I wasn’t even inside a car at the time, is it possible for me to be given an open container ticket?

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If I wasn’t even inside a car at the time, is it possible for me to be given an open container ticket?

I received an open container ticket. The officers had walked by my friends car and saw a bottle of alcohol inside the car. At the time i was standing outside the car waiting for my friends so we could leave. The officer then asked for our ID’s and gave us all tickets. Also, they circled it as a misdemeanor. I thought that an open container ticket is only an infraction? I am over the age of 21 as well.

Asked on October 27, 2012 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You had additional questions about the nature of the offense.  This is considered and infraction which is basically an offense punished by a fine-- but most courts will label it as a misdemeanor for classification purposes.  Regardless of the level of the offense, the prosecution still has the burden of showing that the open container was yours.  If the officer cannot place you in the seat of the car or handling the container at some point, then you should be able to contest the validity of the citation/conviction.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Since you actually received a citation for an open container in your vehicle, obviously law enforcement was allowed to do what it did. The issue is was the citation valid? If there was an open container of alcohol in the vehicle then under the laws of all states in this country there is a basis for citing the owner of the vehicle with a particular offense. I suggest that you consult with a criminal defense attorney to assist you in your matter.


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