The Case of the Travelling Hootch

The Case of the Travelling Hootch

Facts

Our client, Dr. Camenker, recently decided to visit his daughter and her husband in the town of St. Petersburg. Dr. Camenker and the rest of his family took a ferry while his other daughter and the husband drove to Longwood. On the ferry, they hiked and reached their restaurant early evening where they spent the evening eating and drinking wine. They took away the last bottle of whine which was half-way finished and was rapped in a clear plastic bag. This bottle was firmly corked by the waiter before the packaging. They also took away fried mushrooms after they finished their main meal. Dr. Camenker placed the clear plastic bag in the car’s trunk as they left the Dunedin restaurant. The back-seat armrest was broken since Camenker had once carried lengthy fishing rods to a fishing trip before. After starting the car and moving two blocks from the restaurant, our client Dr. Camenker was pulled over by traffic police officers.

 The offense was that Dr. Camenker had joined the main road from the restaurant without coming into a complete stop. After a few exchanges of words, he was told to step out of the vehicle and the car was searched. Since the plastic bag at the back of the trunk was clear, the officer saw the bottle of wine which as half-way finished. This led to our client being charged with an offense of driving with an open alcoholic container under the Florida’s Open Container Law.

Issue

Under the Florida’s Open Container Law, does the statutes legalize drivers having an open container of alcohol in the car? The statutes in Florida 316.1936 prohibits passengers and drivers from having open alcoholic beverages containers in their vehicle where they can easily access or retrieve them. These open containers constitute of those that have their seals broken which means that they can be consumed at any time. This law applies for all moving and stalled vehicles. In Florida, one cannot lawfully have an open alcoholic container in a car.

Law

The Florida’s Open container Law was formulated in 1988. These laws are in a continuous amendment process which allows legislatures to put more strict rules to those who do not obey. In Florida, violating the open container law means that one has neglected the statutes. Each individual is presumed to follow the rules set. Negligence warrants that one can be subject to a lawsuit. The Florida Law 316.1936 gives a definition of an open alcohol containers as ‘any container having alcoholic beverage that is readily available for consumption by the driver or passenger and which has its seal broken.’ Under the Florida law, a road is defined as a public way that people use that include slopes, retained walls, ditches and sluices which are subject to regular maintenance.

Passengers are also prohibited from drinking or having open alcohol containers in cars. The 316.1936 Law states that co-drivers and other passengers commit a non-moving traffic violation if they have a container of alcohol that is readily available for use. The Florida’s Open Container Law also prohibits persons from drinking in uber cabs. The statutes have exceptions for drivers with commercial vehicles. This is because the uber drivers do not have commercial licenses. The Florida’s Open Container Law does not prohibit motor vehicle drivers and other passengers from drinking on their private property which are not adjacent to any kind of road. This means that one has to be completely off the road, alleyway or ditches.

The penalties for driving with an open container are contained under the Florida law 318.14. these includes for both the driver and the co-drivers who will be charged with non-moving traffic offense. The charged individuals are usually summoned of which if they do not appear, they are charged with misdemeanor that can amount to an arrest warrant. If by any chance the infraction causes death, the victims are charged with community services and a fine according to the statutes. The fine stands at $60 in addition to court assessment charges for drivers while passengers may pay a $30 fine plus court fees. The Florida law provides a maximum $500 penalty for individuals who violet these statutes.

Analysis

There are exceptions to the Florida’s Open Container Law when one is from a restaurant. The law provides that one can be allowed to take home a bottle of alcoholic beverage if they follow the statute rules. This law is covered under section 564.09 of the Florida law. These rules are that one must have a full course meal from a particular restaurant before leaving. Our client, Dr. Camenker had had a full meal in the Dunedin restaurant. They took the first bottle of wine and finished before ordering another while they had been served. This proves that they had a legal right of carrying the remaining bottle home according to the statutes.

The second rule under this law is that the remaining alcoholic container should be locked in the trunk of the vehicle or a locked glove. If the trunk is full or unavailable, the bottle should be placed at the far-end seat of the vehicle. My client had placed the bag which had the wine at the trunk before they left the parking lot of the restaurant which was by the Florida’s law 564.09. though the armrest were not replaced, our client couldn’t still access the wine since it had been kept in the trunk and not the back seat. This shows that he had adhered to the statutes in place. Another rule for carrying an open container home under the Florida statute is that it must be carefully re-corked which was done so by the waiter in the restaurant before our client left. It will be in order to charge our client, Dr. Camenker, with joining the main road without completely stopping and not possessing an open alcoholic container under the Florida statutes.

Conclusion

Under the Florida’s Open Container law, a driver or passenger violates these statutes when he/she neglects the set rules. The law clearly states that no driver or passenger is allowed to have an open alcohol container in a moving or stalled vehicle on the road that has sidewalks, ditches and slopes in adjacent. Individuals can be charged with infractions that leads to penalties that do not exceed $500. Exceptions are only provided but under strict guidance and conditions. Drivers and passengers can only be allowed to posses an open alcoholic container in the vehicle when in private property and when they are from a restaurant where they had a full course meal. The take away alcoholic beverage must also be well re-corked and placed in the trunk or the last seat at the back of a vehicle which cannot be easily accessible.

References

Florida Law 316.1936- Florida Open Container Law (2019)

Florida Law 564.09 (2019)

Florida Law 318.14 (2019)

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