Tailgate parties are most closely associated with football season. However, any kind of sporting or entertainment event can be a popular tailgate party venue. If you’ve already parked and you’re not going to be driving for at least several hours, you shouldn’t be worried that you’re breaking the law, right?
It depends. You need to be careful. The presence of open containers of alcohol around a vehicle can be problematic. Here are some things to remember if you want to avoid having your party end with a night in jail.
Be careful where you store the alcohol in the car
Virginia doesn’t have an “open container law” that prohibits unsealed alcoholic beverage containers in the passenger area. However, if you’re stopped by police and open containers are found, it can create what the law calls a “rebuttable presumption” that the driver has been drinking while driving (which is illegal) if it appears they have been.
It’s best to keep everything (even unopened bottles and cans) locked in the trunk until you arrive. Definitely lock any open containers away when you leave.
Don’t get too close to the car with your keys
There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks once you’re parked, right? If you’re standing just outside the vehicle with your car keys in your pocket, you could potentially be considered to have physical control over it.
If someone’s there who’s not drinking, give them your keys. If that’s not an option, just don’t give police any reason to come over to your party by being loud or aggressive. That’s a good rule to follow in any situation.
Don’t serve alcohol to minors
If you’re responsible for the party and/or the one who brought the alcohol, be sure you’re not making alcohol accessible to minors. That can get you in legal trouble.
Don’t risk a DUI
If you’re planning to drink at your tailgate party, have a designated driver to get you home. A designated driver isn’t the person who’s the least drunk. It’s a person who is consuming no alcohol. That’s just one reason why it’s good to include plenty of non-alcoholic drinks like soda and flavored water.
If you’ve been charged with DUI or another offense, don’t assume that you have no chance of fighting it or getting the charge reduced. However, your best chance of being able to do that involves having experienced legal guidance.