Rightly or wrongly, The Villages in central-Florida has developed a reputation as a wild place to retire and live out your Golden Years. An internet search for “The Villages Florida Reputation” garners results that include rampant STDs, a “golf cart chop shop” and countless drug and DUI charges. Open container violations in The Villages can seem minor by comparison. But they can lead to serious charges.
If you or someone you care about has been caught up in the allures of central-Florida’s The Villages and are facing criminal charges, you need a seasoned criminal defense lawyer on your side.
Driving a Vehicle with an Open Container is Illegal in Florida
Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, is one of the most common criminal charge for residents and guests at The Villages.
A DUI often starts innocently enough when a resident or guest at The Villages is enjoying the social scene at one of the many pools in the area. The alcohol is flowing, and when leave you take the bottle with you.
Driving with an open container, whether you’re in a car or a golf cart, is illegal in Florida. Florida statute §316.196 makes it illegal to possess an open container of alcohol while driving a vehicle, while a passenger of a vehicle that is being driven, or even when sitting in a vehicle that is stopped on a road.
Under Florida statute, a golf cart is considered a vehicle. People in The Villages can be and often are stopped for violating Florida’s open container laws while driving a golf cart.
An open container is defined as any container of an alcoholic beverage which is immediately capable of being consumed from, or on which the seal has been broken.
An open container will be considered to be in the possession of the driver of the vehicle unless it is in the physical control of a passenger, or is located in a locked glove compartment, locked trunk, or locked non-passenger area of the vehicle.
Violation of Florida’s open container law is punishable by a fine of up to $500 plus court costs and other fees, and will add three points to a person’s record of moving violations.
There are a few exceptions to Florida’s open container law, such as if the driver has a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a passenger endorsement and is driving the vehicle under a contract for provide transportation for passengers, or if the vehicle is a motorhome longer than 21 feet.
However, an open container violation is often a precursor to a DUI charge.
A Florida DUI Conviction Carries Hefty Penalties
If you have been charged with a DUI in Florida, you face any combination of up to 9 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, 50 hours of community service, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) at your expense, probation, loss of driving privileges, and having your vehicle impounded for up to 10 days.
If you have been charged with a violation of Florida’s open container law, and especially if that violation led to a charge for DUI, a Florida DUI defense lawyer can help.
An attorney might be able to challenge whether there was probable cause for the initial stop, or call into question whether there was a violation of the open container law.
A Florida DUI Defense Lawyer Can Guide Your Through Florida's Legal System
If you are facing a Florida DUI charge, you need a skilled attorney who will aggressively defend you, protect your driver’s license, and guide you through Florida’s legal system with your best interests in mind.
As a former prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer Jody L. Fisher knows the Florida court system inside and out, and her team will work hard to find evidence that will get your case dismissed, or use it to negotiate a better plea deal.
Contact the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher
If you are facing a Florida DUI charge, contact a criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. If you want to request a hearing regarding the suspension of your driver’s license, you must do so within 10 days of your arrest.
If you or someone you care about is facing Florida DUI charges, contact the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher today for a consultation. Call (352) 503-4111, email, or complete our online form.