Common Traffic Tickets in CA Explained: Non-DUI Drinking Offenses

by jeremy on April 4, 2012

Everyone knows that speeding or running a red light or stop sign can result in being pulled over and given a traffic ticket for your momentary lapse in judgment. But did you know there are literally hundreds of California Vehicle Code sections you can violate every single time you get in your car? (And some, even, that you don’t even require you to be driving?)

If you’ve been cited for one of the many violations dealing with non-DUI alcohol-related offenses, it could end up costing you hundreds of dollars in fines, an increase in your car insurance premiums, and even a suspension of your license. Learn more about the most common alcohol-related traffic violations:

• VC 23222(a) – Open container on person of driver. This is the most common of the “minor” alcohol offenses. A violation of this section requires that the driver of a vehicle hold an open container with contains any amount of alcohol. While the law states that the driver must have alcohol on “his or her person” this section is often cited if an officer wishes to ticket a driver when a passenger possesses an alcoholic beverage. If this is the case, you have a very winnable case. If the officer wished to cite someone for having an open alcoholic container, he should have cited the passenger under VC 23226, as discussed below.

• VC 23225(a) – Open container kept in vehicle by driver or owner. This section varies from the violation immediately above because it does not require an open container be on the “person” of the driver. You may be cited for this offense if there is an open alcohol container located almost anywhere in your vehicle besides the trunk. However, it is not necessary to even be driving – you may be cited for this offense if you are the owner of the vehicle and someone else is driving, or if you are parked on the side of the road.

• VC 23220 – Driver drinking in vehicle. The elements to violate this section require that a person driving a vehicle drink an alcoholic beverage. However, to be found guilty on this defense, an officer must actually see you drinking from a can or bottle; an officer merely observing a driver with an alcoholic beverage and smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath is not sufficient to prove a violation of this section. It is common for a citing officer to make this improper conclusion.

• VC 23221(b), 23223(b), & 23226(b). Alcohol violations involving a passenger. Unlike the violations discussed above, these vehicle code infractions involve passengers. For these sorts of violations, it is not necessary to be the driver or owner of the vehicle, and in fact it is often not even necessary to be in a moving vehicle; a person can be cited while a vehicle is parked on a public street. However, these violations are open to the same sort of challenges as discussed above.

If you have been cited for any of these common traffic infractions, it would be wise of you to contact an attorney today. Often, these sorts of tickets can be reduced to much less expensive violations or even completely dismissed. If you would like a free and completely confidential evaluation of your case, contact us today.

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