While it may seem like no big deal to use a friend’s vehicle to run an errand, you may put yourself in a compromising situation if you are not careful.
If your friend happens to leave open containers in his or her car and an officer pulls you over for any reason, you may end up facing misdemeanor charges.
Open container laws in Minnesota
The Minnesota Legislature website states that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle that contains open bottles or containers. The law defines an open bottle as any type of receptacle that holds alcohol and is open, has the seal broken or has some of the alcohol removed.
If law enforcement finds open bottles in the car you are driving you may receive misdemeanor charges, even if you are not drinking and you do not own the vehicle. For this reason, it is very important to ensure that you check an unfamiliar vehicle before you drive it anywhere. If you do find open containers, be sure to dispose of them before getting behind the wheel.
The open container laws apply to any space inside a vehicle where the driver may reasonably have access. So, while you do not need to rifle through your friend’s trunk, you will want to check the glove compartment and back seat.
Aggravating factors in Minnesota
If you already have impaired driving incidents on your record, driving with open containers in a vehicle may add insult to injury. Minnesota considers prior offenses when issuing citations and penalties for current offenses.
In order to avoid further penalties, be sure to ask your friend if there may be open containers in his or her car. However, you should always search inside the car yourself as well instead of just taking your friend’s word for it.