Ijaw Dictionary Online

How Automobiles Work

– Today we’re talking
about two different crimes that are housed under the same statute. One is having an open container
of alcohol in your vehicle. The other is consuming
alcohol in your vehicle whether it’s your vehicle or you’re a passenger in the vehicle. It’s consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle or having an open container of alcohol within the passenger compartment. They’re both housed in Title
IV, under section 42-51. And the law is written here, in red. We’ll run through it, we’re
gonna talk about the penalties. And we’re gonna talk about
some common outcomes, some defenses that you may have if you’ve been charged with
one of these two crimes. So the first and foremost is it’s unlawful to consume alcohol if you’re operating a motor vehicle or if you’re a passenger
within the motor vehicle. It says passenger compartment. So that’s gonna mean if
you’re in the passenger seat. In the back seat some people will do this while they’re
taking long road trips. They’ll bring some alcohol. The people who are not
driving the car, obviously, will have some drinks to help pass the time and have
some fun on the road trip. If you’re stopped and an officer sees that they can cite you for
having an open container or consuming alcohol
within the motor vehicle. It’s something that is
actually quite common. Similarly, it’s also a
crime to just simply possess an open container of alcohol
within the motor vehicle. Within the passenger compartment area. So if you have an open
container of alcohol, it’s within the passenger compartment, meaning it’s on the passenger
seat or it’s behind you. It’s easily accessible, you can reach it. You can get to it and it’s open. The seal’s broken. It’s closed but it’s not
sealed, that can be a crime. If it’s in the trunk, or if
it’s somewhere where you cannot readily access it than that’s
not going to be a crime. It needs to be within the
passenger compartment. So one of these two things can be a crime. Both of them can be a crime. Obviously, if you’re consuming alcohol, you’re probably also in
possession of that alcohol. And so sometimes we’ll
see both of these charged under subsection one and two or A and B. So this is how the law
works, it’s pretty simple. Either you’re consuming it
or you are possessing it. You don’t have to be
intoxicated, it’s not like a DUI. You can imagine that if you’re stopped and you’re consuming alcohol they’re probably gonna be
processing you for a DUI but you don’t actually have to be impaired or under the
influence of alcohol. If you’ve just taken a sip of something they can charge you with the
consumption and the possession. Both of these offenses are class two misdemeanors in Arizona. So Arizona operates on a scale. We have class one, two
and three misdemeanors. Class one is the most serious. Class three is the least serious. Class two’s right in the middle. The maximum penalties for
a class two misdemeanor four months of jail, two years
probation, $750 in fines. They can tack on a bunch
of surcharges as well depending on what jurisdiction you’re in. So as you can see, it’s
fairly serious charge. Anything that’s involving
alcohol, that goes on your record. Employers, job applications,
things like that, when they do a background
check and they see that they may have concerns about it. So you want to make sure that you’re not ending up convicted of this. Now I said four months jail, doesn’t mean you’re gonna
get four months jail. That’s the maximum penalty
and we very rarely see anybody get the maximum
for something like this, but it is a legal possibility. More realistically, it’s probably
just gonna be some fines, maybe a small amount of probation, maybe some alcohol classes and those things if you plead guilty. Of course we want to avoid that. How do you do that? So some common outcomes are, we want to try to reduce the criminal charges into civil charges. In Arizona, there are
sort of civil analogs. So you can say that the
vehicle had something in the vehicle that was not proper. Kind of like equipment violations. The vehicle contained something that it should not have contained. And so you can make the
same factual basis for this. So in, under the criminal code it’s yes, the vehicle contained alcohol. There was consumption of
alcohol within the vehicle. There was a bottle of alcohol, there were bottles of alcohol. When you drop it down to a civil you can say the vehicle
contained improper equipment. Improper items were within the vehicle. It’s a civil violation. But you can say, okay
the alcohol was improper, it shouldn’t have in there. But you drop it from a
criminal into a civil, that way you’re not having
a criminal conviction. And that’s really what most
people are concerned about when they are facing these charges. Also, in some jurisdictions,
it depends on the city, it depends on court, it
depends on the prosecutors. You can get what’s called, deferred prosecution or diversion. Deferred prosecution means
that the prosecutor’s office will hang on to the charges. So they’ll kind of, while
you’re case is being prosecuted they’ll stop it, they’ll set it aside. They’ll say, we’re gonna
look at your record again in six months or one year. If you’ve been convicted of anything else we’re gonna bring those charges back. But if you haven’t, and you
want to pay a prosecution fine, you want to pay some certain, you know, fees and processing things. They’ll dismiss those charges. That’s called deferred prosecution. Diversion is where you
do something in exchange for a more immediate dismissal. So, you take an alcohol class. You take a substance abuse class. You take a DUI class, to
show you about the risks of drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle. You do something and in
exchange for doing that they turn around and dismiss the charges. That’s also something that
can be negotiated out. If you can’t reach something. You can’t reach a reduction or you can’t get something negotiated. Sometimes these cases have to go to trial. Sometimes, the person who
is driving the car is cited but it wasn’t their bottle, it
was their passenger’s bottle. And so it’s hard to kind of
make the connection that, that person should have
criminal culpability when really they weren’t
in actual possession. They weren’t consuming, they
weren’t in actual possession. That may be the case. So there’s a lot of
different factual issues that can arise in these things. You want to make sure that
you are taking it seriously. As I said, it’s a class two misdemeanor. Arizona, we don’t have
anything like expungement. So if this goes on your record, it’s gonna be staying there. We do have what’s called a motion to set aside your conviction. But it’s a lot less powerful than what you might think
of in terms of expungement. So you want to, at the outset, make sure that this is
being dealt with properly. Our office, we’ve got
a criminal defense team that that’s all that we do,
we only focus on criminal law. We make sure that we meet with you. Put together a very solid plan so that you are not having
to face a criminal conviction as a result of any one
of these violations. If you do have these charges
pending, give us a call. We offer free case evaluations. We’ll schedule an
appointment to meet with you. I look forward to speaking with you soon. Thanks for watching.
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