When you and your friends are out for the evening having a good time, your friends might want to bring alcohol into your vehicle to continue the party. You probably realize that you shouldn't drink and drive, but have you ever considered the legality of your friends drinking as you drive? If not, you might be interested in learning more about it.
One thing that you must know is that all states, with the exception of seven, have laws that forbid open alcoholic containers in a vehicle. New York is not one of those seven states, so you shouldn't have open containers of alcohol anywhere in your vehicle as you drive. Yes, that means that your friends can't drink while you are driving.
If you are pulled over while your friend has an open alcoholic beverage container, even if the container is empty, you can be cited for the open container. Your friend can also be cited.
New York is one of the 40 states in the country that has open container laws that comply with the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. That act means that any container of alcohol, regardless of the type, is forbidden within the passenger area of the vehicle. This means that open containers of alcohol can't be anywhere that you or a passenger can reach while seated in the vehicle.
Another interesting aspect of that act is that an open container, even if it is in the possession of a passenger, is grounds for a traffic stop. Under the act, the open container law is a primary enforcement offense, which means no other grounds are necessary for a law enforcement officer to initiate a traffic stop.
An open container citation can wreck havoc on your life. Learning about this violation and deciding how to handle the situation can be difficult. Seeking the assistance of someone familiar with this law can help you decide how to proceed if you have been cited for an open container.
Source: FindLaw, "Can Passengers Drink Alcohol In a Car?" Nov. 18, 2014