Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys / Former Prosecutors
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what our team can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Finding a Felony Defense LawyerChoosing a Misdemeanor Defense LawyerDrug and Alcohol Crimes Defense LawyerWhite Collar Defense Attorney for Utah ChargesAttorney for Expungements Reductions and PardonsDefendant Constitutional Rights Criminal LawyerBail and Bond Alternatives in UtahReasons for Hope Facing Criminal Charges

Salt Lake Open Container Defense - Utah Criminal Lawyer

Having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle can result in criminal charges punishable by jail time and substantial fines. If you are facing prosecution for open container or other criminal charges in Salt Lake, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help give you the best chance of success in defending your rights. Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Elements of a Salt Lake Open Container Alcohol Charge

Utah's open container laws apply both to the driver and to passengers in a motor vehicle. Although drivers are the individuals who are most often charged in Salt Lake criminal cases, passengers who are found in possession of an open container of alcohol may also be criminally charged.

Criminal Defense Attorney Salt LakeA person may also be charged for "allowing" another person to possess, carry, or transport an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Thus, a driver who allows a passenger to bring an open beer can, wine bottle, etc. into the vehicle's passenger compartment can also be criminally prosecuted.

An "open" container of alcohol is defined under the statute as any container which has had the seal broken or has had its contents partially consumed. This can include a bottle, can, or any other container that actually contains an alcoholic beverage. A container that is completely empty will not support a violation of the Utah open container law.

Utah's open container laws apply whether the vehicle is being driven or is parked and immobile. But the open container prohibitions apply only to the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The vehicle's passenger compartment is considered to include any areas that are accessible to either the driver or passengers while traveling, and include glove boxes or other utility compartments. The passenger compartment does not include a trunk or other areas that are not accessible to the driver or passengers while inside the vehicle.

There is a split of opinion as to whether the rear cargo area of an SUV is considered to be a part of the passenger compartment. Some police officers have declined to cite a driver for open containers found in an SUV's cargo area. But in most SUV's, the cargo area can be accesses by a rear-seat passenger. Thus, a person carrying an open container of alcohol in an SUV cargo area faces potential criminal prosecution.

Penalties for an Open Container Charge in Salt Lake

Open container charges in Utah are typically filed at the class C misdemeanor level. This charge is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and substantial potential fines. A judge also has the option of placing a defendant on probation rather than imposing the full jail sentence. Conditions of probation may include substance abuse counseling, community service, payment of fines, and other requirements found by the court to be appropriate.

Finding a Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal Lawyer Salt LakeStephen Howard is a Utah criminal defense attorney based in Salt Lake City. He has extensive experience defending both felony and misdemeanor charges in Utah. He has a record of achieving real results for his clients.

If you are facing prosecution for an open container charge or other criminal charges in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, contact us today to schedule an initial attorney consultation.


Can I carry empty beer cans or wine bottles in my car to be recycled?

A person who is carrying EMPTY beer cans or wine bottles to a recycling facility should not face criminal prosecution under Utah's open container statute. Utah Code 41-6a-526 prohibits the transportation, carrying, possession, etc. of "any container which contains any alcoholic beverage" if the container has been opened. The key element here is that the open container must actually contain some alcohol. If the bottles, cans, etc., are completely empty, then transporting such containers in the passenger compartment of a vehicle should not result in criminal open container charges.

Note, however, that Utah's criminal statutes change from time to time. And the interpretation and application of any criminal statute can depend on subtle differences in the facts of a given case. The information contained in this website should not be construed as legal advice. Instead, consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney is strongly advised.

Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Get Help Now
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
  • Utah Expungement Attorney Expungement - Worked to restore client's expungement eligibility through 402 reduction process, then filed successful expungement petitions in multiple courts obtaining expungement orders and clearing client's official criminal history.
  • Utah Burglary Defense Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with second-degree felony residential burglary and facing potential prison time. Investigation by the defense revealed multiple witnesses, missed by police and prosecutors, who supported client's claim of innocence. At trial, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict on all charges.
  • Recent Posts
  • What Constitutes Drug Parpahernalia in Utah How is drug paraphernalia defined in Utah? - The definition of drug paraphernalia under the Utah criminal code looks at both the nature of the object and also the intended use of the object in question. . . .
  • Utah Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
Best Criminal Defense Strategy

Aggressive is good. Effective is better. The best defense strategy in any given criminal case can require in-depth analysis of the facts and a thorough understanding of applicable statutes, case law, and complex procedural and evidentiary rules. Having an experienced attorney on your side....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

With decades of combined experience, our criminal defense team attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and determination to help you achieve the results you need. Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can have serious consequences. Choosing the best attorney to defend your case may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences - Utah Criminal Defense

A Utah criminal prosecution can result in a lifetime of consequences. Beyond jail and prison, a conviction can affect many areas of life, including employment, housing, finances, family, and much more. Never plead guilty without first consulting with an experienced criminal attorney. Understanding what is at stake is the first step....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Hope

Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can feel like your world is collapsing. But there are reasons to remain hopeful, and there are things you can do right now that can help increase the odds of a successful outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the various options you have, and can help you....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.