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Ohio Rev. Code 4301.62.B.4 Open Container and DUI/OVI Charge

Open Carry versus DUI Charge

Contained amongst the various restrictions and regulations around liquor is a law that prohibits anyone from being in possession of an open container of beer or other intoxicating liquor in a vehicle whether as a driver or a passenger. The penalties for this charge are far less severe than for a DUI/OVI.

What Qualifies for an Open Carry Charge?

The requirements for open carry are deceptively simple and quite a bit broader than you may think. Because the law (Ohio Rev. Code 4301.62.B.4) prohibits ‘opened containers’, any open container of alcohol counts. That includes an open bottle of wine that is completely full or an empty crushed can of beer that has been under your car seat for a decade. This charge is also different than merely drinking in a stationary vehicle. That is a separate charge altogether.

When is an Open Carry Charge Available in Practice?

It is likely that you were stopped on a regular traffic stop for alcohol check or because the officer considered you’re driving erratic and then saw an open container. Or, that you (or the passenger) was seen with an open container. Then, on stopping you, the officer had reason to add on the DUI/OVI charge. For that reason, you are facing two separate counts, a DUI/OVI charge and an open carry charge.

What is the penalty for a DUI/OVI charge and an Open Carry charge?

The penalty for DUI/OVI in Ohio is severe. Even first-time offenders face mandatory jail time of up to 6 months, mandatory license suspensions for 1 year or more and hundreds of dollars in fines. If this is not your first DUI/OVI offense the consequences are even more severe. On a third offense, you can be looking at up to a year of incarceration, almost $3,000 in fines, a mandatory alcohol treatment program and have your license suspended for up to 12 years. (Ohio Rev. Code 4511.19) Add in the demerit points, possible interlocks, restricted plates, in order to attend a treatment program and the insurance troubles you will face. You will also have the uniquely negative influence of a DUI/OVI in all things connected to insurance, employment, college admissions etc.

In contrast, an open carry is a minor misdemeanor criminal offense. That means no jail time and a maximum $100 in fines.

What Are my Options if I am Charged with a DUI/OVI and an Open Carry?

It is wise to get a skilled DUI/OVI lawyer. 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 if you have been charged with a DUI/OVI and an Open Carry.