Open Container Laws

States have passed laws that restrict or prohibit the carrying of an open container of alcohol in public places or in a motor vehicle. These laws are called open container laws.

It is an offense to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Many states have laws that prohibit the consumption of alcohol by passengers in a vehicle. The exact nature of the open container law varies from state to state.

  • In some states, an open container is defined as a container with the seal broken. So it is perfectly okay to carry a sealed container inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle in these states.
  • In some states you can carry a container in the glove box.
  • In some states it is illegal to carry an open container of alcohol at a public place. Public place includes roads, sidewalks, pavements, parking lots, common area in a building or just about anywhere that is not your home or a bar.
  • However, states may allow the consumption or carrying of open alcohol containers in public places on certain days or festivals. Often the restriction is lifted in certain geographical areas. Some areas of certain cities may be exempt from the open container laws but other restrictions may be imposed on the carrying of alcoholic drinks in containers such as the nature of the container or the size of the container.


The penalties for violation of open container laws vary from state to state. In some states if you are caught with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle but you are not intoxicated, you will have pointed added to your license. In some states, underaged drivers can have their driver’s license suspended of violation of open container laws.

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