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California Vehicle Code 23221-23229 | Open Container Laws

Posted in California Law,DUI on June 11, 2024

California makes it illegal in many situations to drive with open containers of alcohol in a vehicle or to consume an alcoholic beverage while driving. These laws make it illegal to have a bottle, can, or other receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage open or with a seal broken while driving. Let’s review these rules further.

What Are the Open Container Laws Under California Vehicle Code Sections 23221-23229?

California has a number of open container laws that coincide with various code sections, as follows:

  • Vehicle Code 23221 – This law prohibits a driver or passenger from drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana in a car driven on a public road.
  • Vehicle Code 23222 – This law makes it unlawful to have an open container of alcohol or cannabis in a car.
  • Vehicle Code 23223 – This law prohibits a driver or passenger to possess any bottle, can, or other receptable that contains an alcoholic beverage if it has been opened, has a broken seal, or in which the contents have been partially removed.
  • Vehicle Code 23224 – Under this law, it is a misdemeanor offense for a driver or passenger under 21 years of age to have an open or unopened alcoholic beverage without a parent in the vehicle unless they are lawfully transporting it as part of their job.
  • Vehicle Code 23225 – This law states that open containers of alcohol can lawfully be transported if they are in a trunk or locked compartment in the vehicle that the occupants cannot access while driving.
  • Vehicle Code 23226 – This law prohibits storing open containers in the glove compartment or other compartments within the reach of the driver or passengers.
  • Vehicle Code 23229 – This law provides exceptions to open container rules for passengers traveling in taxis, limos, or other vehicles for hire.
  • Vehicle Code 23229.1 – Under this law, it is illegal for vehicles for hire to store alcohol while transporting passengers under 21 years of age.

If you are facing charges for any of these crimes, contact a criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC for legal advice and representation.

Penalties for Violation of California Open Container Laws

Most violations of these crimes are considered infractions for adult defendants, similar to getting a speeding ticket. The fine is up to $250, and points can be added to your driving record.

However, if you are a minor charged with violating an open container law, the offense is considered a misdemeanor offense, which can result in jail time of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, and a driver’s license suspension for up to one year.

If you are facing an open container violation with a DUI charge, the judge can choose to punish you more harshly than if the DUI offense stood alone. 

Have You Been Charged with an Open Container Violation?

If you are currently facing charges for an open container violation, a Riverside criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC can help. We can evaluate your case and build an effective defense strategy to combat these charges. We welcome you to contact us or call us at  (951) 667-5293 for a free and confidential consultation.