Per North Carolina General Statute 20-138.7(a), no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway or the right-of-way of a highway: (1) while there is an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area in other than the unopened manufacturer’s original container; and (2) while the driver is consuming alcohol or while alcohol remains in the driver’s body.
Any container in which the seal has been broken is defined as an open container. A passenger area is considered any area within reach of a seated driver or passenger. This includes the glove compartment. The trunk and behind the back seat is not considered the passenger area and is out of reach of the driver and the passenger.
The driver will not be in violation of Transporting an Open Container of Alcoholic Beverage unless he has consumed alcohol. Only the person who possesses or consumes an alcoholic beverage will be in violation and shall be charged. The odor of an alcoholic beverage on the breath of the driver is not enough evidence to prove that alcohol has been consumed.
Transporting an Open Container of Alcoholic Beverage is an infraction, and is not considered a moving violation for DMV purposes. The first offense is of Transporting an Open Container of Alcohol is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor; the second offense is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. If a Transporting an Open Container of Alcoholic Beverage charge is associated with a Driving While Impaired charge, the punishment shall not exceed the maximum.
For more information on Transporting an Open Container of Alcoholic Beverage call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC today at (919) 585-1486.