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Alcohol Consumption in a Motor Vehicle

Open container laws in Ohio are changing. Now cities can designate areas where walking in public while drinking a beer or other alcoholic beverage is legal. Although some areas will start to permit alcohol consumption in public, this will never include people in motor vehicles.

Ohio lawmakers know that alcohol and cars don’t mix, so these types of violations are taken very seriously by police. Alcohol consumption in a motor vehicle is always illegal in Ohio, whether you are a driver or a passenger. The only exception to this rule is in the back of a limousine if you are separated from the driver. Even if you are not drinking and driving, the actions of your passengers can still get you, the driver, in trouble.

What Do I Have to Be Doing to Be Arrested for Alcohol Consumption in a Motor Vehicle?

Unfortunately, law enforcement doesn’t have to catch you in the act of drinking an alcoholic beverage while in a moving vehicle in order to arrest you for alcohol consumption in a motor vehicle. Instead, evidence of violating Ohio open container laws in your car or truck is enough.

To arrest you, police only must prove the following:

  • You were driving on a public road.
  • There was an open container, such as a cup, bottle, can, or glass, containing alcohol somewhere in the vehicle other than the trunk and within reach of the driver or a passenger.
  • This container still had some measurable amount of an alcoholic beverage when found by the officer.
  • The seal on the container was broken or its contents were at least “partially removed.”

Penalties of Consumption in a Motor Vehicle

Consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle is a fourth-degree misdemeanor in Ohio. If convicted, you face a maximum penalty of 30 days imprisonment and a $250 fine. In addition, you can end up with a criminal record and face serious collateral consequences. These include:

  • Social stigma,
  • Difficulty maintaining your current job or finding future employment,
  • Possible denial during immigration or naturalization proceedings, and
  • More limited housing opportunities.

Unless you vigorously defend against these charges, you could face more serious legal problems than you probably ever expected.

Call Luftman, Heck, & Associates Today to See How We May Be Able to Help

Violations involving alcohol and motor vehicles are taken very seriously in Ohio, even if you weren’t driving under the influence. Even though it may seem like no big deal, an arrest for consumption in a motor vehicle can have a big impact on your life. Don’t let yourself face these charges alone.

If you are arrested for any alcohol-related offense, you need the support of an experienced Columbus criminal defense attorney to dispute your charges. Call the dedicated defense team at Luftman, Heck, & Associates today at or email them at advice@ columbuscriminalattorney.com today to set up your free preliminary case consultation. Find out how we may be able to help in your case.

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580 E Rich St Fl 2
Columbus, OH 43215-5335
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