Open Container

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Open Container Laws

Ohio Revised Code Section 4301.62 prohibits Dayton, Ohio, residents from having an open container of intoxicating beverages on certain premises in their possession. Intoxicating beverages include non-alcoholic drinks that the accused mixed with controlled substances.

A person may not have an open container in any public place, including a street, highway, or inside a motor vehicle. A person may not have an open container while driving or riding as a passenger on either public or private property. Even if the vehicle is stationary, the law forbids the accused from having an open container in their possession.

Ohio Open Container Attorney

If you were arrested for any alcohol related offense,  you should speak to a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your rights, your possible defenses, and the complicated legal system. At Joslyn Law Firm, criminal defense attorney Brian Joslyn is familiar with Ohio drinking laws and has consistently defended people accused of drunk driving.

The Joslyn Law Firm represents clients in communities such as Troy, Fairborn, Beavercreek, Huber Heights, and Piqua. Call (937) 356-3969 to schedule a free consultation with Joslyn Law Firm today.

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Information Center

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Open Container Exceptions

There are exceptions to this law. If an exception applies, the defendant may use it to defend against the charges. Indeed, the defendant did not commit a crime, and officers cannot reasonably suspect they committed a crime if at least one of these exceptions applies. See Section 4301.62(C)(1) for a comprehensive list of exceptions. Common Dayton, Ohio open container exceptions are:

  • Purchasing and consuming intoxicating liquors on a premises where they hold either an A-1-A, A-2, A-2f, A-3a, D-1, D-2, D-3, D-3a, D-4, D-4a, D-5, D-5a, D-5b, D-5c, D-5d, D-5e, D-5f, D-5g, D-5h, D-5i, D-5j, D-5k, D-5l, D-5m, D-5n, D-5o, D-7, D-8, E, F, F-2, F-5, F-7, or F-8 permit
  • Serving wine as a tasting sample for an A-2 permit holder or S permit holder
  • Consuming beer or liquor at a convention facility
  • Consuming beer or liquor during a tasting or sampling approved by the rule of the liquor control commission
  • Consuming spirituous liquor as a tasting sample
  • A music festival owner who has an F liquor permit and allows attendees to bring alcoholic beverages on the property that they purchased elsewhere
  • Possessing beer or liquor at an outdoor refreshment area that the defendant purchased from a vendor with an A-1, A-1-A, A-1c, A-2, A-2f, D class, or F class permit. The defendant must stay within that outdoor refreshment area’s premises
  • Alcoholic beverages that come from a market with an F-8 permit, when it allows alcohol consumption
  • Being a guest in a chauffeured limousine
  • Riding a commercial quadricycle while not occupying the front seat, using the bike on a public road or highway, and not having more than thirty-six ounces of beer or eighteen ounces of wine

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Open Container Penalties

Having an open container is a misdemeanor. A judge may fine the defendant $150 if a jury finds the defendant guilty or the defendant pleads guilty. However, drinking from an open container of alcohol is a more serious offense. It is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. Bear in mind that penalties may increase if the police charge the defendant with other charges, such as operating a vehicle while intoxicated. If the defendant has an open container in their car while driving, the police can charge multiple offenses.

Sometimes, defendants may think that a short jail time is not a significant punishment, and they rationalize that pleading guilty is more cost-effective than fighting the charges. However, a criminal record will hinder anyone’s life and goals. Employers are just as likely to turn an applicant away over a misdemeanor charge as they are for a felony. Not to mention, certain employers and careers are more likely to discriminate against alcohol-related convictions than others. The stigma of being an alcoholic can be regarded as more of a risk for employers than, say, a burglar, especially if the defendant seeks construction, trucking, or childcare work.

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Open Container Defenses In Ohio


There are exceptions to the open container law. If the accused’s open container defense lawyer proves that an exception applies, the state must drop the case, or a jury must find the defendant not guilty. Neither the police nor the defendant may realize immediately when an exception is present. The police may find the language of the exceptions ambiguous and disagree that the exception the defendant would like to use applies under the facts of this case. An attorney could aim to prove that the law’s language carves out an exception as a defense to the defendant’s allegedly illicit act.

Unreasonable Stop

If the police discovered the defendant had an open container while driving, the defendant might argue that the officer made an unreasonable stop. Officers may only stop a vehicle when they reasonably suspect a crime was or will be committed. In this case, seeing a person run a red light, swerve down the road for several minutes, or drive erratically may alert the police that the driver is intoxicated. However, if the police pulled the driver over for discriminatory reasons, such as the driver’s race or gender, the court might suppress any evidence of the unlawful stop.

Fourth Amendment Violation

The Constitution guarantees that all citizens must be free from warrantless searches and seizures and that officers must have probable cause to get a warrant or make an arrest. Officers need reasonable suspicion to detain a suspect and search their clothes. Suppose the arresting officers didn’t have reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop and frisk of the suspect’s outer garments or probable cause to make an arrest. In that case, the court will likely throw out the evidence they gathered.

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Additional Resources

ARC-ip Weekend OVI Program – This Ohio website provides information regarding costs associated with attending this substance use program.

Ohio Mental Health And Addiction Services – This Ohio website provides information on a driver intervention program for drivers living with a substance use disorder.

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Ohio Open Container Lawyer | Joslyn Law Firm

If you were cited with the possession of an open container or consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Joslyn Law Firm.  Challenging a crime in court is difficult, and you should consider reaching out to a lawyer to handle your case. Joslyn Law Firm has years of experience addressing DUI cases and are prepared to serve you.

Call (937) 356-3969 to schedule a free consultation today. Joslyn Law Firm helps individuals facing OVI charges in Dayton and surrounding areas as  Xenia, Kettering, New Carlisle, and Springfield.

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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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