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Open Container

To be charged with open container, you must have been carrying an open alcoholic drink in any of the following circumstances:

  • In a liquor store (unless it was a sample)
  • Anywhere that has a permit, unless any of the following apply:
    • It’s authorized to sell beer or liquor for immediate consumption
    • It’s authorized to serve beer, wine or mixed drinks
    • It’s a convention center
    • It’s a sample
    • It’s a music festival
    • It’s an outdoor performing arts center or orchestral performance
  • In any other public place
  • In a car, moving or stationary, whether you’re the driver or a passenger, unless
    • You’ve paid to ride in a limousine and you’re sitting in the back

Nearly every day in central Ohio people are charged with open container. During every OSU football season, thousands of open container tickets are issued to tailgating fans. An open container charge is a minor misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $150 fine.

If you are convicted of an open container offense, additional potential issues include:

  • Maintaining your current employment
  • Difficulty getting a good job in the future
  • Difficulty and possible denial in immigration and naturalization proceedings

Although it is a minor misdemeanor that is punishable only by a fine, an open container violation is still an alcohol related offense and should be treated with an appropriate level of concern.

The Columbus Criminal Defense team takes an aggressive and comprehensive approach when representing clients charged with open container. First and foremost, we will figure out what mistakes the police made and what legal issues can be raised on your behalf.

We do this by requesting discovery from the prosecutor. The discovery will generally consist of police reports, additional investigative notes and potentially a lab analysis of the alcohol. As our client, you will receive a copy of everything received from the prosecutor for your review

Based on the legal weaknesses in the State of Ohio’s case and any other mitigating factors, we will negotiate the best possible plea available with the prosecutor for you to consider in resolving your case.

If your case cannot be resolved satisfactorily with a plea, it would then proceed to a motion hearing (a hearing where the judge issues a ruling on an evidentiary issue) or a trial to the judge or jury, depending on the circumstances.

For nearly ten years, the Columbus Criminal Defense team has successfully represented clients charged with open container. That extensive previous experience will enable us to better help you.

Contact us today!

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If you’ve been charged with theft, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions left unanswered by this page, or if you need a competent, experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for you in court, please contact us at or via email at

Open container is a minor misdemeanor and carries with it a potential fine of no more than $150.
Have a question we didn’t answer below? Feel free to email us or call us and we’ll help you out.

Yes, you can! The person operating the boat, however, still can’t have an open container, and his or her blood alcohol content cannot exceed 0.08, just like with cars.

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Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
580 E Rich St Fl 2
Columbus, OH 43215-5335


FAX: (614) 413-2886