Georgia’s Open Container Law: What You Need to Know

Georgia’s Open Container Law: What You Need to Know

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Do you live in Georgia? Or have you visited the state’s charming cities like Savannah? Then, you may have noticed an open alcohol container (or two).

Stroll Savannah’s River Street and it feels like the whole town is a buzz. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the sunshine with a drink in hand.

You have heard about Georgia’s open container law. But, you might feel confused about what this law actually means. Whether you have reservations about drinking and walking in public places. Or, you are unclear where open containers are allowed, read on.

This is the ultimate legal guide for what you need to know about open container law in Georgia. So, on your next afternoon walk or a trip down south, you can comply with the local legal system and expectations.

What Is an Open Container Law?

While each state has specific legislation, you may be wondering, What is an open container law? In general terms, in the United States, an open container law controls what alcohol is allowed or not allowed in certain areas. The law regulates the active consumption of alcohol in these specific places.

Notice the keyword, active? This means physically consuming or drinking an alcoholic beverage in these public spaces. Open container laws can regulate public areas such as parks, inside vehicles, city streets, or sidewalks.

The Back Story

How did open container laws begin and what is the backstory? Open container laws started in an effort to decrease alcohol-related crime and lower the rates of public drunkenness. These laws appeared about 40 years ago with the goal of clarifying the confusion around the consumption of alcohol in public places.

Around the late 1980s, states started adopting vague open container laws to local legislation and specific interests. Cities like Savannah, New Orleans, and others around the country are well-known for adopting an open attitude toward public drinking. But, open container laws come from higher laws at the federal level.

Watch Out for Local Laws 

There is no federal open container law in the United States. These laws exist on the local and state levels. Therefore, open container laws by state vary.

So, it is important to understand the local legislation and legal system. This can create confusion and the potential to receive tickets or fines. Or, if you’re not careful, you can get into more serious legal trouble.

That’s why you may need the assistance of Savannah-based attorney Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C. This firm understands the ins and outs of local laws.

It is important to hire a legal professional with the pertinent legislation affecting your potential case. A local legal team will know specific rules and be on top of any legal changes or surprises.

Approach With Caution

You may be moving to Georgia. Or, maybe you are visiting from another state like New York, where steep fines are in the hundreds of dollars. So, open container leniency can seem foreign.

But, just because states like Georgia have this lenient law, that does not mean free reign. You still need to know the specifics and legal expectations.

Open Container Law Georgia

Now that you understand open container legislation differs state by state, what are the Georgia area specifics you need to know? Open container law GA  states an open container alcoholic beverage is a can, bottle, or any other container. The container has to be able to hold alcohol with the intention of consumption.

The law further states that the open container:

  • Contains some parts or contents removed (i.e. consumed alcohol)
  • Has a broken seal or opened container (for example, an open can or a removed wine cork)

These legal specifications can help you understand what is considered an open container in Georgia and what is not.

Specific Georgia Legislation

There is some specific legislation you may need to know. For example, the city of Savannah has its own legislation and open container policy. The legislation states that open containers are only allowed within the confines of the Historic District.

But, there are many other areas of Georgia where the legislation differs. Depending on your city, town, or county, these rules can drastically change. If you need legal help or have questions about specific legislation in your area, an experienced Georgia attorney can help.

The Law and Motor Vehicles

The open container law in Georgia completely prohibits alcohol consumption in motor vehicles. The law states that consuming any type of alcoholic beverage or being in possession of any type of alcoholic beverage in the passenger seat of a vehicle is not permitted. The law extends to any public highway, shoulder of the highway, road, or city street.

Open Container Violations

What is an open container violation in Georgia? According to the law, the person who is in possession of an alcoholic beverage or consumes an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle would be charged with a violation. The violation can result in a fine of up to $200.00.

But what about car passengers? The law does not affect any passenger seated in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. The law extends to passengers in non-traditional vehicles such as the living area of a house trailer or motorhome.

It’s Important to Understand Open Container Law in Georgia

The first step to complying with local legislation is knowing the area-specific laws and rules. The open container law in Georgia may seem fairly easy or not as strict as you may assume. But, it is still important to practice caution and be aware of specific rules.

This information can help you act safely, responsibly and avoid legal issues. But, do you still have questions about open container laws in Georgia? Or, are you facing serious legal issues like DUI or drug-related charges?

You could benefit from legal guidance and representation. It is important you hire a local attorney who is familiar with the Georgia legal landscape and specific legislation affecting your case. If you have specific questions click here to learn more.