Drinking Alcohol in Vehicle Plea Bargain in California DUI
A lot of police encounters with individuals have to do with them drinking alcohol in a vehicle. A lot of times people will park in a dark parking lot or on a street and they will sit and drink alcohol in their vehicle with friends.
This is really just an excuse for the police to come along and be able to come up to the car, shine their flashlights in, get everybody out of the car, search everybody and search the car. This happens all the time, especially in parks.
You think you're going to stop in a park and sit there especially on a weekend night. You can expect there's a good chance the police are going to come swooping into the park looking to see if they can arrest somebody, especially for a DUI. That's what they do.
Consuming alcohol in a vehicle is an infraction under California Vehicle Code 23221. This statute makes it illegal for both drivers and passengers to have any open alcoholic beverage while in a vehicle. It does not matter whether they are drunk or not.
Manufacturing Probable Cause To Search Vehicle
They try and manufacture probable cause to get into the vehicle and search it, so a lot of times people will be in a park after park hours. That will give the police probable cause to come up, shine a flashlight on them and begin the process of trying to see if they can catch them drinking alcohol in the car, catch them with drugs in the car, catch them with a weapon in the car.
This is what these guys are looking for. So, when you park in a public park, especially late at night and especially after park hours, you're just giving the police and open-ended invitation to come in and search you and your car and try to give you a citation or even arrest you.
So, it's definitely not a good idea to drink alcohol inside of a vehicle, because not only can you get charged with possession of an open container, the driver can be charged with some driving-related offenses that can really mess with their driver's license, cause them to pay heavy fines, cause them to have to go into criminal court, potentially get a misdemeanor on their record.
And again, it's really just a prelude to the police being able to search them. I'm always amazed that people are driving around with drugs in their car or with a weapon and they either don't have a front license plate on their vehicle or they're driving in a reckless manner of they're stopped at a park late at night drinking alcohol.
Can I Plea Bargain My DUI Down to Drinking in Vehicle?
It's possible, but will depend on the details of the case. A wet reckless is a more likely offer. Drinking in a vehicle makes it easy for the police to be able to find them, number one, and to be able to search them and locate the weapon. Now they're in a whole world of hurt, especially in Los Angeles county, because after you get caught drinking in a vehicle and they find a weapon, you really now put yourself in a bad position.
You're definitely going to get charged with a crime. Prosecutors are going to want a conviction. They're going to want to mess with your ability to own, use and possess weapons.
So, the short answer related to drinking alcohol in a vehicle is, don't do it. Don't get caught doing it. If you did get caught doing it, pick up the phone. Make the call. I've handled thousands of these cases over twenty-five years.
We have to try to show that whatever your circumstance is, it's not the normal circumstance. It's an aberration. It's never going to happen again, so we can try to avoid that criminal conviction and possibly use some sort of a defense related to an illegal stop/search of you and your vehicle to try to get you the best outcome in your criminal matter.