Thank you, R.
This is covered in Maryland's Crim. Law §§ 10-123 et seq
. It states:“Open container” means a bottle, can, or other receptacle:
(1) that is open;
(2) that has a broken seal; or
(3) from which the contents are partially removed.
That is it. That is as descriptive as it gets. Now, the rest is up to the Judge, or Jury (if you choose a trial
and ask for a jury trial). They
would be the decider of whether or not the charge is proper given the verbiage of the statute.
The issue is that the statute is ambiguous a bit. Sometimes the statutory language is susceptible of more than one meaning. When faced with an ambiguity, courts must consider not only the literal or usual meaning of the words but also the meaning of words in light of the statute as a whole and within the context of the objectives and purposes of the enactment. Romm v. Flax, 340 Md. 690, 693, 668 A.2d 1, 2 (1995). Common sense must guide us in our interpretation of statutes, and "we seek to avoid constructions that are illogical, unreasonable, or inconsistent with common sense." Frost v. State, 336 Md. 125, 137, 647 A.2d 106, 112 (1994). Although this Court is not limited to the literal or usual meaning of statutory language, Romm, 340 Md. at 693, 668 A.2d at 2, the Court may not insert or omit terms to make a statute express an intention not reflected in the statute's original form. Bridges v. Nicely, 304 Md. 1, 10-11, 497 A.2d 142, 147 (1985); Police Comm'r v. Dowling, 281 Md. 412, 419, 379 A.2d 1007, 1011 (1977).
As such, one's attorney can make the argument to the Judge or Jury that given the mitigating factors, one should not have been charged with this crime
because the bottle was obviously not being drunk then and there, the driver was not intoxicated or had serious blood alcohol level, and it may have been previously opened, but was on the back seat and obviously not in use, but only being transported.
In such cases, the Judge (or jury) can then make the decision. A jury is generally more favorable, as they add a "subjective" touch to the matter that may override any cold legal doctrine and sway them towards the Defendant's side anyhow.
Finally, if the matter is dismissed, one may even consider bringing a civil suit for malicious prosecution
. "Malicious prosecution is the beginning or continuing of a legal prosecution with malice and without probable cause
against another, where the proceedings terminate in favor of the other person." Montgomery Ward v. Wilson, 339 Md. 701 - Md: Court of Appeals 1995
I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.
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