Washington allows open containers which are considered any vessel containing alcohol with a broken ribbon or seal. Cannabis is also included in open container laws, but there are rules limiting the scope of these laws. Keep reading to learn more.
WA Open Containers
Washington laws define open containers as those including flasks, open bottles, and open containers of marijuana. Cannabis does fall under open container laws, but it’s important to recognize that while the state may have legalized cannabis to an extent open container laws still apply. When a driver has an open container of cannabis, they could be charged with fines, not to mention possible criminal charges.
Punishment for Open Containers
The penalties for open containers depend almost entirely on the circumstances. For example, if a person is pulled over and the law enforcement finds an open container the driver could be charged with a traffic infraction and $250 in fines.
On the other hand, if the driver has clearly consumed more than the legal limit – and more than the container would imply – they could face DUI charges which have much harsher penalties. A DUI could be punishable by jail time, suspension of the drivers license along with fines.
Exceptions to the Rule
Alcohol and cannabis can be in a vehicle as long as it is not easily accessible to the driver – otherwise it can be inferred that the driver is consuming the substance while driving. All open containers should be stored as far away from the driver as possible.
For party busses, limos, and other vehicles where alcohol may be served, the businesses have licenses that allow them to have open containers within the vehicle. License holders may serve drinks in the vehicle but only if they are paid. RVs and campers are also exempt from open container regulations.
While violating an open container law may not be on par with other criminal charges, they are serious and they do go on a person’s permanent record. If you have been charged with violating an open container rule, contact Hester Law Group.