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Whether anyone has actually been drinking or not, it is illegal in New York for any person in a vehicle to be in possession of an open bottle of alcohol. People may be surprised to learn that this pertains to passengers, as well as drivers. It also applies to a vehicle that is stopped or turned off. According to the statute posted on the City of Yonkers website, the open bottle cannot be anywhere within the passenger compartment or cab of the vehicle. The only safe way to transport an open container of alcohol in a vehicle is by securing it in the trunk.

Drivers should use caution since an officer discovering an open container during  a traffic stop can lead to other possible charges. An open container may lead the officer to suspect that someone has been drinking and lead to the administration of a blood alcohol test, and additional charges, which are much more serious.

Simply getting caught with an open container is considered a traffic infraction and not a serious criminal offense. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, the penalty for a first offense involves fines, possible imprisonment and possible points against the person's driver's license. However, if this is not the person's first citation, then additional offenses commited within 18 months of the first offense will result in higher penalties.

What if people are heading to places such as sporting events or concerts and want to party on the way there? Exceptions do exist for vehicles like party buses and stretch limousines that have special state or federal permits, so booking a ride is always a safe way to go. If travelling locally, stopping to pick up a brand new bottle instead of bringing an already open one is advisable.

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