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

Canyons Law Group - 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
Contact a Lawyer
** 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
  • Utah Burglary Defense Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with second-degree felony residential burglary and facing potential prison time. Investigation by the defense revealed multiple witnesses, missed by police and prosecutors, who supported client's claim of innocence. At trial, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict on all charges.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Recent Posts
  • What to Do When Arrested for DUI What should I do if I am arrested for DUI? - Many DUI cases begin as minor traffic stops. But the consequences of a DUI conviction are much more serious than an ordinary traffic citation. If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you have specific important constitutional and statutory rights that can protect your. . . .
  • Utah Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
Best Criminal Defense Strategy

Aggressive is good. Effective is better. The best defense strategy in any given criminal case can require in-depth analysis of the facts and a thorough understanding of applicable statutes, case law, and complex procedural and evidentiary rules. Having an experienced attorney on your side....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your Utah criminal case can be the single most important decision you make. Before hiring any lawyer, there are a number of important factors to consider. The person you select as your criminal defense attorney will be responsible to defend your case and protect your rights....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences - Utah Criminal Defense

In Utah, even a "minor" misdemeanor conviction carries the potential for jail time and significant fines. A felony conviction carries the potential of lengthy prison terms and the various consequences that come with being labeled as a convicted felon. Never plead guilty without first finding out....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Reasons to Hope

Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. But just being charged can affect more than you may have imagined - jail, job, family, bills, rent or mortgage. It can feel like everything has gone wrong, and may you wonder if anything can go right. But facing criminal prosecution does not mean giving up hope....

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
340 East 400 South, Suite 25, 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.