In Wisconsin it is illegal to drink and drive. The term "drinking and driving" applies to actually drinking an alcoholic beverage while driving down a road as well as to situations in which a driver consumed alcohol before getting into a vehicle and driving it. However, some may wonder if drinking while in a moving vehicle is illegal for individuals other than the actual driver.
Vehicle passengers in possession of open containers can be charged with a crime. An open container is an unsealed bottle, can or other vessel that contains an alcoholic substance. In some situations, a driver can be charged or cited with an open container violation if the container is close to him but not actually in his hand. In many cases the blood alcohol concentration of a passenger or a driver is not factored into an open container charge.
States like Wisconsin are asked to comply with the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. This law covers open container legislation and dictates generally what is and is not permissible with regard to alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles. Most states throughout the country have adopted its rules regarding open containers.
There are several exceptions to the open container rule. Some commercial vehicles like limousines have separate passenger and driver compartments. As such, passengers in such vehicles may be permitted to consume alcohol while in their designated compartments. Additionally, passengers in certain mobile homes may be allowed to drink alcohol while another individual is operating the vehicle.
Open container laws can be complicated. For that reason, individuals facing citations and charges related to open container may desire the assistance of legal professionals. Lawyers who work in the drunk driving charges and defense field can help those confronting open container problems with resolving their legal needs.