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What is an Open Container Charge?

Enforcement Officer

When one goes on vacation to Myrtle Beach, one expects to enjoy themselves. A popular method of relaxation is a day at the beach – which is often, for folks 21 and older, accompanied by an adult beverage. We all know that it is illegal to drink and drive, and we’ve already discussed how there are laws regulating the consumption of alcohol on the beach, but we haven’t yet acknowledged that even the containers from which you consume that beverage can land you in hot water, especially if that container is found in the car.

State and Municipal “open container” laws refer to any “unsealed or open container” which has or had once held alcohol, and which is found in specifically prohibited areas. That container could be an open can of White Claw, an empty red cup that once held a mixed drink, or a bottle of booze used for said mixed drink, even with the cap screwed back on.

State law covers the transportation of open containers in vehicles. Under South Carolina state law, the only place in your vehicle that you can legally have an open container of alcohol is in the trunk. In municipalities, the laws are more focused on public places where lots of people are likely to be. Within Myrtle Beach city limits, for example, it’s illegal to have an open container in a business’s parking lot, on rights-of-way, or on the boardwalk.

In general, if you’ve been drinking, it’s best to leave the remains in the trash when you head back to your home or hotel. If you must bring an unsealed container with you, and there’s no need to trash a half-full bottle, make sure you store it in the luggage compartment of your vehicle. And what are the potential consequences if you’re convicted of having an open container? An open container conviction means a misdemeanor on your record and up to thirty days in jail or up to a $100 fine.

The bottom line is, when you’re transporting unsealed alcohol of any kind, if it’s not in the trunk, it can get you in trouble. The only exception to this is while lawfully tailgating at a police-supervised event.

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