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ORC 4301.62(B)(5) Drinking in A Vehicle

Drinking in A Vehicle
Ohio Rev. Code 4301.62(B)(5) is one of those laws that frustrate people somewhat because it makes illegal something that you wouldn’t think is illegal at all. ORC 4301.62(B)(5) specifies a prohibition on drinking in a vehicle that is not moving. This is slightly different that an “open carry” charge which requires that the vehicle be moving.

What qualifies for a “drinking in a vehicle” charge?

This is a very simple charge with a few quirks given the wording of the law. The law reads as follows:

“No person shall have in the person’s possession an opened container of beer or intoxicating liquor in [….] while being in or on a stationary motor vehicle on any street, highway, or other public or private property open to the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking.”

It is also notable that the law itself is contained within the Code on liquor and not under the one for motor vehicles. The implication of that is noted below but what is important to note is the prohibition is on having an open container while you’re in a stationary vehicle. You need not be the driver or in the driver’s seat. Even if you are just sitting in the back seat under a blanket with a book in one hand and a beer in the other, that is enough for you to be charged.

There are some exclusions to the law. For example, it is not illegal if you’re in a limousine or an RV that is parked.

What are the penalties for a DUI/OVI charge and a Drinking in A Vehicle Charge?

A DUI/OVI is a very serious offense and the penalties for it are severe. Even first-time offenders face mandatory jail time of up to six months, mandatory license suspensions for one year or more and hundreds of dollars in fines. On subsequent DUI/OVI offenses the consequences get progressively worse. On a third offense, the fines reach $2,750, you must attend an alcohol treatment program, your license is suspended for up to 12 years. (Ohio Rev. Code 4511.19) You also get 6 demerit points, mandatory interlocks, mandatory restricted plates, and a criminal record that is severe enough to seriously hinder insurance, employment and college applications.

By contrast, the “drinking in vehicle” charge has nothing to do with your driving privileges or license. It won’t impact your demerit points or leave a blemish on your criminal record. No classes to attend, no interlocks nothing. Your penalty will be limited to the monetary fine that goes along with the charge and that is only a few hundred dollars at most.

What should I do if I am charged with a DUI/OVI and a Drinking in a Vehicle Charge?

The short answer is that you will need a DUI/OVI lawyer. The lawyer will conduct his/her own investigation into the circumstances of your DUI/OVI charge to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence. If you go alone, the prosecutor may not be willing to bargain at all—they will assume they can convict you in court. Having a lawyer is the first and most important step to battling your DUI/OVI charge and a Drinking in A Vehicle Charge.