As many know, under South Carolina law, you are not allowed to have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle while on the public roads and highways. However, except for Sundays, it is okay to have an open container if you are not in a vehicle unless there is local ordinance specific to your city that prohibits open containers. And you can be drunk in public, but not “grossly intoxicated.” Here is a quick rundown of laws related to open containers and public intoxication.
South Carolina Open Container Laws
South Carolina law prohibits an open container containing alcohol in a motor vehicle while on the public roads unless the container is in the trunk or luggage compartment. See S.C. Code § 61-4-110. The statute reads: “It is unlawful for a person to have in his possession, except in the trunk or luggage compartment, beer or wine in an open container in a motor vehicle of any kind while located upon the public highways or highway rights of way of this State.” The use of the words “while located upon the public highways or highway rights of way” means that your vehicle does not have to be in motion — being driven — and the law does not apply to private roads or private property. Violation of the statute is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $100 or up to 30 days in the county jail.
Note that the statute does not apply to tailgate at your favorite sporting event. The statute has this exception: “… this section does not apply to vehicles parked in legal parking places during functions such as sporting events where law enforcement officers are on duty to perform traffic control duties.”
Open Containers on Sunday Mornings Not Involving a Vehicle
Aside from prohibiting open containers in a vehicle, South Carolina law also prohibits open containers of alcohol in general from midnight to sunrise on Sunday mornings. See S.C. Code § 61-4-140 which explains that a person drinking alcohol from an open container on Sunday is guilty of a misdemeanor, and can result in a fine of $100 or jail time of up to 30 days.
What is Public Intoxication in South Carolina?
Under S.C. Code § 16-17-530, residents of Greenville are prohibited from being grossly intoxicated in public. The statute reads in pertinent part: “Any person who shall (a) be found on any highway or at any public place or public gathering in a grossly intoxicated condition or otherwise conducting himself in a disorderly or boisterous manner…”
Like the open container laws, the violation is a misdemeanor carrying a possible fine of $100 or up to 30 days in jail.
Call Greenville, SC Personal Injury David R. Price, Jr. P.A. Today
If you have been cited and ticketed for an open container or public intoxication, it is important to seek a good criminal defense attorney to help. Every conviction — any conviction — is something that can adversely affect your ability to get a job and might be used for enhancement of sentencing in the event of a subsequent criminal conviction. If you have been charged with a crime, then you need a tough criminal defense lawyer. Contact David R. Price, Jr., P.A. today via email for your consultation.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.