Open Container Laws

As part of basic public safety there are regulations on open containers. Open container laws refer to anything regulating open alcohol containers in public or in vehicles. These are left up to states and local municipalities to legislate. Let’s more closely examine open container laws and the implications.

Open Containers in Vehicles
While the federal government can’t directly legislate open container laws they can create incentives for states to implement these laws on their own. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (Tea-21) sets out certain guidelines for states to follow in order to receive roadway funding. If the state fails to comply, a portion of the funding will go to alcohol awareness. All but 11 states have an outright ban on open containers in vehicles. Alaska, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Wyoming have partial bans whereas Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia actually allow passengers to drink.

Open Containers in Public
Since this issue is left up to the states, the laws and penalties are quite varied. Even so, possessing an open alcohol container in public is illegal for the vast majority of the country. A handful of exemptions exist in the following regions: the historic district of Savannah Georgia, the Power and Lights District in Kansas City, the Strip in Las Vegas, the French Quarter of New Orleans, and Butte Montana. All except Butte, Montana have some type of restriction on the container type or size.

Penalties for Violation
These are as varied as the laws themselves. For an open container in public, if there are no extenuating circumstances or prior incidents, the penalty may simply be a small fine. However, if you have been stopped for DUI and an open container was found in your vehicle you may face enhanced charges. Among all of these confusing laws and DUI consequences, one thing remains clear, if you’re unsure of the laws, play it on the safe side and leave the alcohol on the bar. In the event you find yourself charged with an open container violation or any charge relating to alcohol, contact a DUI attorney for a good defense.


Using the form below, please submit your contact information and an experienced open container/DUI defense lawyer will immediately respond to your question.



DISCLAIMER:  OPENCONTAINERLAWS.COM HAS PUBLISHED THE INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE FOR INFORMATIONAL USE ONLY.  DUE TO CONTINUALLY CHANGING LAWS, THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION MAY BE OUTDATED AND NOT 100% ACCURATE. THE CONTENT WITHIN THIS WEBSITE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE OR CONSIDERED AS THE LAW.  USE OF THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.



States/Abbreviations
AK Alaska LA Louisiana OH Ohio
AL Alabama MA Massachusetts OK Oklahoma
AR Arkansas MD Maryland OR Oregon
AZ Arizona ME Maine PA Pennsylvania
CA California MI Michigan RI Rhode Island
CO Colorado MN Minnesota SC South Carolina
CT Connecticut MO Missouri SD South Dakota
DE Delaware MS Mississippi TN Tennessee
FL Florida MT Montana TX Texas
GA Georgia NC North Carolina UT Utah
HI Hawaii ND North Dakota VT Vermont
IA Iowa NE Nebraska VA Virginia
ID Idaho NH New Hampshire WA Washington State
IL Illinois NJ New Jersey WI Wisconsin
IN Indiana NM New Mexico WV West Virginia
KS Kansas NV Nevada WY Wyoming
KY Kentucky NY New York DC Washington DC