Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Veteran Criminal Defense Lawyer / Former Prosecutor
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what the right attorney can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Contact Us

Open Container - Alcohol Charges - Utah Criminal Lawyer

Utah law places strict rules on how alcohol may be used or possessed in a motor vehicle. Drinking alcohol inside a motor vehicle, whether the vehicle is being driven or parked, is a criminal offense. Possessing or transporting an open container of alcohol can also result in criminal charges. Defending criminal charges in Utah requires an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing criminal prosecution for an open container or other criminal charges, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with Utah criminal attorney Stephen Howard. Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah.

Elements of an Open Container Alcohol Charge in Utah

Utah Open Container Defense LawyerWhether you are the driver or a passenger, whether the vehicle is parked and stationary or being actively driven, you may find yourself facing criminal charges if police find an open container of alcohol in a car, truck, van, or other motor vehicle. This Utah criminal charge does not require proof that you consumed any alcohol while in the vehicle. Instead, the charge simply requires proof that the container was "open." A container of alcohol is considered to be "open" if its seal has been broken or its contents have been partially consumed.

A common misconception relating to this Utah law is that the statute prohibits the transportation of any open container of alcohol.  In fact, an open container of alcohol may be lawfully transported in a vehicle, so long as it is not carried or transported in the vehicle's "passenger compartment." In common terms, this means that you may lawfully carry or transport an open container of aclohol in your vehicle's trunk. Because the storage areas of most SUV's and minivans is accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle, these areas are not suitable for the lawful transportation of an open container of alcohol.

Utah's open container law (section 41-6a-426 of the Utah Code) also provides that it is a crime for either a driver or a passenger to drink any alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle (whether moving, stopped, or parked on the side of the road). Since it may be hard to imagine how a person might drink alcohol from an unopened container, this provision of the law may be somewhat reduntant with the "open container" provisions of the same statute. Nevertheless, the Utah legislature has made it clear that a crime can be charged for either consuming alcohol in a vehicle or possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

Consequences of Conviction for an Open Container Charge in Utah

A criminal charge for having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle in Utah is typically classified as a class C misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, and a fine plus surcharge of up to $1,425.

Criminal cases involving open container charges are also often accompanied by charges for DUI or being drunk in or about a vehicle. Either of these charges can increase the potential penalties substantially.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerBased in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has a track record of achieving real results for clients. If you are facing prosecution in Utah for possession of an open container of alcohol or other criminal charges, you deserve to have an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer on your side.

Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation.


Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Get Help Now
** All fields are required. **
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Charges of insurance fraud were brought when investigators found reason to believe that client's claim of injury was fraudulent. Client was seen kicking a soccer ball, and investigators concluded that the injury claim was false. By obtaining medical records and other administrative records, and by pointing out to the prosecutor that the alleged injury interferred with the client's ability to lift - not his ability to kick a ball - the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
Best Criminal Defense Strategy

The best outcome is more likely when the right strategy is employed. Developing the best strategy can require real courtroom experience, a thorough understanding of procedural and substantive legal issues, and a determination to ensure that important constitutional and other legal rights are protected. Choosing the right attorney....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your Utah criminal case may be the single most important decision you make. The courtroom can be a hostile place. Prosecutors receive extensive training on legal and tactical issues. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side is critical to defending your case and protecting your rights....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences - Utah Criminal Defense

A Utah criminal prosecution can result in a lifetime of consequences. Beyond jail and prison, a conviction can affect many areas of life, including employment, housing, finances, family, and much more. Never plead guilty without first consulting with an experienced criminal attorney. Understanding what is at stake is the first step....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Hope

Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can feel like your world is collapsing. But there are reasons to remain hopeful, and there are things you can do right now that can help increase the odds of a successful outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the various options you have, and can help you....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.