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Missouri’s Open Container Laws Has Unintended Consequences

While the connection between DUI crimes and infrastructure seems tenuous at best, they are related in some respect. For example, in Missouri, a law that, in theory, increases the likelihood of DUI offenses triggered a shift of government funds from highway construction and repair to safety, resulting in a reduction in fatalities. Specifically, under Missouri law, it is not illegal to have open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. It is illegal under federal law, though, and the conflict has caused the subsequent diversion of funds. While the Missouri law has no impact in Illinois, it is relevant to the question of how the modification of laws relating to DUI crimes impacts other facets of the state government. If you are faced with charges that you committed a DUI crime in Illinois, it is wise to contact an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to determine your rights.

The Ramifications of Missouri’s Open Container Laws

Missouri differs from many states in that it has not criminalized the act of driving a car with an open container of alcohol in the passenger area. While it is lawful to have open alcoholic beverages in a car under Missouri law, it violates federal safety statutes. As such, since 2001, a substantial portion of federal funds that would typically be used for highway construction and repairs have been diverted to safety programs. In total, approximately $370 million in funds have been reallocated.

While many people would expect that Missouri’s lack of an open container law would lead to increased DUI-related fatalities, the opposite seems to be true. In fact, while the national rate of motor vehicle fatalities fell by 14% between 2001 and 2019, Missouri’s rate of traffic fatalities fell by 20% during the same period.

Illinois Law Pertaining to Open Alcohol Containers in Vehicles

In Illinois, as in most other states, it is unlawful to have open containers of alcohol in a moving vehicle. Specifically, pursuant to Illinois Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5/11-502, it is illegal for any driver to transport, carry, possess, or have an open alcohol container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle on an Illinois roadway. This includes but is not limited to open containers of wine, beer, liquor, and champagne. There are numerous reasons the state legislature made it unlawful to have open containers of alcohol in cars, one of which is the conflict with federal law and the resulting push from the federal government to divert highway construction funds to safety measures if such activity is not outlawed.

Meet with an Experienced Illinois DUI Defense Attorney

While driving a vehicle with an open container of alcohol does not constitute a DUI crime per se, it is illegal under Illinois law and can raise suspicion of driver intoxication. If you are faced with accusations that you committed a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer about your possible defenses. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is an experienced DUI defense attorney who is proficient at helping people protect their rights in DUI matters, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Harvatin through the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a meeting.


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