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Thread: Open Bottle - Minnesota

  1. #1
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    Default Open Bottle - Minnesota

    I just received a ticket for "Allowing Open Bottles" in my car. They told me I had to go to court to take care of this. The thing is that I had just parked at a ramp and some cops where coming down the ramp and saw my friends with open bottles coming out of my car. I was driving, but I was not drinking. BUT they did not stop me or anything I was already parked and my friends got out of the car with the open bottles. They do not have proof that we were driving with open bottles right?

    Isn't that reasonable doubt? For all we know they could have opened them in the car when I was already parked, right?

    Any ideas on this? Should I fight it in court? If I get convicted on this, what would I be looking at? I have a clean record, but I just got my US license a couple of weeks ago since I was living out of the country.

    TIA

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    Do you expect anyone to buy that story? Judges and juries are allowed to use common sense. Will all of your friends come and perjure themsleves for you?

    Your first step to seriously fight this is to get a copy of the code section and see what it says. Then consider if that code section fits the facts, and determine what the state's evidence is.

    Remember, that judges have years of experience in their personal lives and on the bench. They can smell a BS defense. If you were tog o to a jury trial, you should expect even less leeway. Jurors are more willing than judges to use their intution.
    Militant Agnostic- I don't know and you don't know either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Mack View Post
    Do you expect anyone to buy that story? Judges and juries are allowed to use common sense. Will all of your friends come and perjure themsleves for you?

    Your first step to seriously fight this is to get a copy of the code section and see what it says. Then consider if that code section fits the facts, and determine what the state's evidence is.

    Remember, that judges have years of experience in their personal lives and on the bench. They can smell a BS defense. If you were tog o to a jury trial, you should expect even less leeway. Jurors are more willing than judges to use their intution.
    Buy what story? I was not drinking.. I'm not charged with drinking.. I'm charged for allowing open bottles...

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    What kind of a ramp are you talking about?
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  5. #5
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    Parking ramp.

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    I don't know what that is. We must call it something different down here. To me a ramp is an exit. A parking ramp sounds like a driveway into a parking garage.

    How far was it from a public road, or was it still on a public road.

    BTW, I looked up the code section. The first step in mounting any form of competent defense is knowing the crime that you are charged with. Legislatures often put funny little things in the law that you should be familiar with up to and including changing definitions of words. For instance, for the purposes of a seat-belt ticket in Georgia, a pickup truck isn't a vehicle if the occupant is 18 or over, but it is a vehicle if an occupant is under 18.
    169A.35 OPEN BOTTLE LAW.
    Subdivision 1. Definitions. As used in this section:
    (1) "alcoholic beverage" has the meaning given it in section 340A.101, subdivision 2;
    (2) "distilled spirits" has the meaning given it in section 340A.101, subdivision 9;
    (3) "motor vehicle" does not include motorboats in operation, or off-road recreational vehicles except when being operated on a roadway or shoulder of a roadway that is not part of a grant-in-aid trail or trail designated for that vehicle by the commissioner of natural resources;
    (4) "possession" means either that the person had actual possession of the bottle or receptacle or that the person consciously exercised dominion and control over the bottle or receptacle; and
    (5) "3.2 percent malt liquor" has the meaning given it in section 340A.101, subdivision 19.
    Subd. 1a. Alcoholic beverage, distilled spirit, 3.2 malt liquor; determination. For purposes of this section only, when determining whether a beverage is an alcoholic beverage, a distilled spirit, or 3.2 percent malt liquor:
    (1) "alcohol by volume" means milliliters of alcohol per 100 milliliters of beverage; and
    (2) "alcohol by weight" means grams of alcohol per 100 grams of beverage.
    Subd. 2. Drinking and consumption; crime described. It is a crime for a person to drink or consume an alcoholic beverage, distilled spirit, or 3.2 percent malt liquor in a motor vehicle when the vehicle is upon a street or highway.
    Subd. 3. Possession; crime described. It is a crime for a person to have in possession, while in a private motor vehicle upon a street or highway, any bottle or receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage, distilled spirit, or 3.2 percent malt liquor that has been opened, or the seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
    Subd. 4. Liability of nonpresent owner; crime described. It is a crime for the owner of any private motor vehicle or the driver, if the owner is not present in the motor vehicle, to keep or allow to be kept in a motor vehicle when the vehicle is upon a street or highway any bottle or receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage, distilled spirit, or 3.2 percent malt liquor that has been opened, or the seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
    Subd. 5. Criminal penalty. A person who violates subdivisions 2 to 4 is guilty of a misdemeanor.
    Subd. 6. Exceptions. (a) This section does not prohibit the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by passengers in:
    (1) a bus that is operated by a motor carrier of passengers, as defined in section 221.011, subdivision 48 ; or
    (2) a vehicle providing limousine service as defined in section 221.84, subdivision 1.
    (b) Subdivisions 3 and 4 do not apply to a bottle or receptacle that is in the trunk of the vehicle if it is equipped with a trunk, or that is in another area of the vehicle not normally occupied by the driver and passengers if the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk. However, a utility compartment or glove compartment is deemed to be within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.
    History: 2000 c 426 s 22-24; 2000 c 478 art 1 s 19; art 2 s 7; 1Sp2001 c 8 art 12 s 3,4; 2007 c 131 art 1 s 77
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    A Parking ramp is a building where you pay to park your car, usually a couple of stories high.

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    So is there any way that the officers saw you on the public highway?
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    Subd. 4. Liability of nonpresent owner; crime described. It is a crime for the owner of any private motor vehicle or the driver, if the owner is not present in the motor vehicle, to keep or allow to be kept in a motor vehicle when the vehicle is upon a street or highway any bottle or receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage, distilled spirit, or 3.2 percent malt liquor that has been opened, or the seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
    I am guessing this would apply to me.

    I was not in a street or highway, I was on the 5th floor of a parking building when they saw us. A parking building is private property correct?

    Do you have the link of what you quoted above?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Mack View Post
    So is there any way that the officers saw you on the public highway?
    No.. they saw us in the 5th floor of the parking building, no way they saw us in the highway/street

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    http://ros.leg.mn/bin/getpub.php?pub...ection=169A.35

    I think that subdivsion 4 is what they're charging you with. The issue here is whether or not it's reasonable for the court to conclude beyond a reaonsble doubt that they were drinking while you were still on the road.

    I find it impossible to believe that they weren't drinking before you turned into the garage, but I'm not sure that is the same as proof that they were. Since you were five stories above the ground floor, I see a problem with the state's case. If I were the officer who was involved here, then I'd probably try to establish through interviews when your passengers started drinking.

    Is it likely that any of them fessed up to the police that they'd been drinking all the way there?
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    While you may or may not (probably not) be able to get out of it....I have to ask why would you allow people in your vehicle with open containers. Did you not think that there MIGHT be a problem with it?

    You might have passed a blood alcohol test, just be happy that one that particular night that they did not make you sumbit to an IQ test.... We all have those times when the ole IQ falls, you got important lesson at a bargain price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Mack View Post
    http://ros.leg.mn/bin/getpub.php?pub...ection=169A.35

    I think that subdivsion 4 is what they're charging you with. The issue here is whether or not it's reasonable for the court to conclude beyond a reaonsble doubt that they were drinking while you were still on the road.

    I find it impossible to believe that they weren't drinking before you turned into the garage, but I'm not sure that is the same as proof that they were. Since you were five stories above the ground floor, I see a problem with the state's case. If I were the officer who was involved here, then I'd probably try to establish through interviews when your passengers started drinking.

    Is it likely that any of them fessed up to the police that they'd been drinking all the way there?
    No they weren't drunk at all, to give the impression that they had been drinking for quite a while.

    How can they conclude, beyond reasonable, doubt that they were drinking on the road. We were 5 floors above the ground. They could have opened the containers when we got into the parking lot, they could have opened the containers and chugged as soon as I parked or they could have been drinking on the road, they are all possibilities and they have no proof of any of them...

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    Quote Originally Posted by staggerwingbeech View Post
    While you may or may not (probably not) be able to get out of it....I have to ask why would you allow people in your vehicle with open containers. Did you not think that there MIGHT be a problem with it?

    You might have passed a blood alcohol test, just be happy that one that particular night that they did not make you sumbit to an IQ test.... We all have those times when the ole IQ falls, you got important lesson at a bargain price.
    I am aware that it is against the law, but I did not really think about it.

    But I mean, I was driving and I was not drinking...

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    If I were to be found guilty of this charge will it affect my driving record? My insurance policy? Do employers check your misdemeanor history when employing you?

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    Using common sense, no one would believe that if a bunch of people are driving in a moving car, they didn't wait until they passed the threshold of the parking garage. I think it's hard to predict what will happen in court. Those of us in the criminal justice system are tend to be pretty narrow when it comes to court. I don't know how a judge would decide. I think a jury would find you guilty in a heartbeat.

    As for your record, I don't know much about Minnesota, but I suspect that it will go on your driving record. Your criminal history is solely based on fingerprint records, so unless you're fingerprinted, it won't appear there. It may show up in public record databases.

    As for future employers, it depends on how thorough your future employers are and the labor laws whereever you apply for work. Since I'm in public safety, I'm used to knowing everything about a new hire. Civilian employers don't have our records or background investigations to depend on. In fact, it's probably illegal for civilian employers to ask most of the questions that we do.
    Militant Agnostic- I don't know and you don't know either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Mack View Post
    Using common sense, no one would believe that if a bunch of people are driving in a moving car, they didn't wait until they passed the threshold of the parking garage. I think it's hard to predict what will happen in court. Those of us in the criminal justice system are tend to be pretty narrow when it comes to court. I don't know how a judge would decide. I think a jury would find you guilty in a heartbeat.

    As for your record, I don't know much about Minnesota, but I suspect that it will go on your driving record. Your criminal history is solely based on fingerprint records, so unless you're fingerprinted, it won't appear there. It may show up in public record databases.

    As for future employers, it depends on how thorough your future employers are and the labor laws whereever you apply for work. Since I'm in public safety, I'm used to knowing everything about a new hire. Civilian employers don't have our records or background investigations to depend on. In fact, it's probably illegal for civilian employers to ask most of the questions that we do.
    What do you suggest I do? Plead guilty? No contest, or try to fight it out?

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    You have the code section. I'd go to the court where this is going to be tried before the court date, and see how things are handled. Then I'd try to talk with a prosecutor. Tell them what happened more or less the way you did here, without admitting that they were drinking on the road. He may decide to just dismiss it. If you can't get him to dismiss, then think about taking your chances on a bench trial if you thnk you have a shot.
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    How they would know is by the amount of alcohol left in the bottles. If they had just opened the bottles, they would still be full when the cop saw them.

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