Transportation

Open Containers of Alcohol in Motor Vehicles

Laws that prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages in the passenger compartments of non-commercial motor vehicles.

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Jurisdiction Policies as of Prohibition Applies To: Primary
Enforcement
Citations
Possession
and
Consumption
Passenger
Area of
Any Motor
Vehicle
All Alcoholic
Beverages
All
Occupants
Any Public
Highway or
Right of Way
AL (Alabama)

Alabama provides an exception from its open container law for a driver who does not have knowledge of and cannot access alcoholic beverages in an open container in the passenger area of the motor vehicle. See Ala. Code § 32-5A-330(c)(6).

For the period May 10, 2012 through March 12, 2014, Alabama allowed bottles of wine to be resealed using a specified tamper-evident procedure, in accordance with statutory or regulatory requirements, as an exception to its open container prohibition. See Ala. Code s. 28–3A–20.1. Because bottles resealed in these circumstances could permissibly be transported within the passenger area of any motor vehicle under State law, and since other criteria for this variable were also met, the Passenger Area of Any Motor Vehicle variable was coded for Alabama for this period.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
AK (Alaska)

Section designations in the Alaska Statutes were renumbered under the authority of Alaska Stat. § 01.05.031 on November 30, 2006.

Alaska's open container law provides an exception for "motor driven cycles." See Alaska Stat. § 28.35.029(b)(2). Due to this exception APIS does not include a check mark in the Passenger Area of Any Motor Vehicle column.

1/1/2017Yes YesYesYesYes3 Citations
AZ (Arizona)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
AR (Arkansas)
1/1/2017      No Law
CA (California)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes6 Citations
CO (Colorado)

Colorado's open container law makes it unlawful for a person to "knowingly" possess an open alcoholic beverage container while in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public highway or right-of-way of a public highway. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1305(2).

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes2 Citations
CT (Connecticut)
1/1/2017      No Law
DE (Delaware)
1/1/2017      No Law
DC (District of Columbia)

Section designations in the District of Columbia Code were renumbered in connection with the publication of the D.C. Official Code, 2001 Edition.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes6 Citations
FL (Florida)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
GA (Georgia)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
HI (Hawaii)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes6 Citations
ID (Idaho)

Since its enactment in 1971, Idaho Code § 23-1333 has prohibited all occupants of a motor vehicle upon a public highway from having in their possession any wine in an open container. Idaho's more general open container statute, Idaho Code § 23-505, has applied to all alcoholic beverages since 1996, and was amended on July 1, 2000, to apply to all occupants and to vehicles on public highways.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes7 Citations
IL (Illinois)

For the period January 1, 2007 through August 14, 2008, Illinois allowed bottles of wine to be resealed using a specified tamper-evident procedure, in accordance with statutory or regulatory requirements, as an exception to its open container prohibition. See 235 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/6-33; 625 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-502(a), (b). Because bottles resealed in these circumstances could permissibly be transported within the passenger area of any motor vehicle under State law, and since other criteria for this variable were also met, the Passenger Area of Any Motor Vehicle variable was coded for Illinois for this period.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
IN (Indiana)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes6 Citations
IA (Iowa)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
KS (Kansas)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes7 Citations
KY (Kentucky)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
LA (Louisiana)

From June 6, 2000, through August 14, 2004, Louisiana's open container law applied only to drivers and included an exception for "any bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of frozen alcoholic beverage unless the lid is removed or a straw protrudes therefrom."

Beginning August 15, 2004, Louisiana's open container law includes exceptions for "any bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains a frozen alcoholic beverage unless the lid is removed, a straw protrudes therefrom, or the contents of the receptacle have been partially removed," and for "[a]ny person operating or occupying a motor vehicle who, as a condition of his employment and while acting in the course and scope of such employment, is required to carry open alcoholic beverage containers, provided that the operator or passenger does not consume the alcoholic beverages."

1/1/2017YesYes  YesYes3 Citations
ME (Maine)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes2 Citations
MD (Maryland)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes7 Citations
MA (Massachusetts)

For the period February 15, 2006 through August 7, 2008, Massachusetts allowed bottles of wine to be resealed using a specified tamper-evident procedure, in accordance with statutory or regulatory requirements, as an exception to its open container prohibition. See Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 24I, ch. 138, § 12. Because bottles resealed in these circumstances could permissibly be transported within the passenger area of any motor vehicle under State law, and since other criteria for this variable were also met, the Passenger Area of Any Motor Vehicle variable was coded for Massachusetts for this period.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
MI (Michigan)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
MN (Minnesota)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
MS (Mississippi)
1/1/2017      No Law
MO (Missouri)
1/1/2017      No Law
MT (Montana)

Montana's open container law requires that a person "knowingly" possess an open alcoholic beverage container within the passenger area of a motor vehicle. See Mont. Code Ann. § 61-8-460.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
NE (Nebraska)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
NV (Nevada)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes2 Citations
NH (New Hampshire)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
NJ (New Jersey)

New Jersey law prior to August 14, 2000, prohibited consumption of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle, and provided that a person would be presumed to have consumed alcohol if "an unsealed container of an alcoholic beverage is located in the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle, the contents of the alcoholic beverage have been partially consumed and the physical appearance or conduct of the operator of the motor vehicle or a passenger may be associated with the consumption of an alcoholic beverage." See N.J. Rev. Stat. § 39:4-51a. APIS coding is based only on provisions that specifically prohibit possession of an open container per se. Coding is not based on provisions that prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles, or that refer to possession of an open container only in connection with a presumption as to consumption of such beverages in motor vehicles. In addition to the anti-consumption law, an open container law became effective on August 14, 2000. See N.J. Rev. Stat. § 39:4-51b.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
NM (New Mexico)

New Mexico's open container law requires that no person shall "knowingly" drink alcohol while in a motor vehicle or "knowingly" possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle. See N.M. Stat. Ann. § 66-8-138.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
NY (New York)

For the period September 9, 2004 through April 11, 2005, New York allowed bottles of wine to be resealed using a specified tamper-evident procedure, in accordance with statutory or regulatory requirements, as an exception to its open container prohibition. See N.Y. Alco. Bev. Cont. Law § 81(4); N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1227(3). Because bottles resealed in these circumstances could permissibly be transported within the passenger area of any motor vehicle under State law, and since other criteria for this variable were also met, the Passenger Area of Any Motor Vehicle variable was coded for New York for this period.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
NC (North Carolina)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
ND (North Dakota)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes2 Citations
OH (Ohio)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
OK (Oklahoma)

Oklahoma's open container law makes it unlawful for any person to "knowingly" transport an open container of any intoxicating beverage or low-point beer in any moving vehicle upon a public highway. See Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1220.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
OR (Oregon)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
PA (Pennsylvania)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
RI (Rhode Island)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
SC (South Carolina)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
SD (South Dakota)

For the period from July 1, 2012 through July 1, 2014, South Dakota allowed bottles of wine to be resealed using a specified tamper-evident procedure, in accordance with statutory or regulatory requirements, as an exception to its open container prohibition. See S.D. Codified Laws § 35-1-9.4. Because bottles resealed in these circumstances could permissibly be transported within the passenger area of any motor vehicle under State law, and since other criteria for this variable were also met, the Passenger Area of Any Motor Vehicle variable was coded for South Dakota for this period.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
TN (Tennessee)

In Tennessee, the open container law prohibits a driver from possessing or consuming an alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle. The law further specifies that a motor vehicle is in operation if its engine is operating, whether or not the motor vehicle is moving.

Tennesee law also provides that any municipality, by ordinance, or any county, by resolution, may prohibit passengers of a motor vehicle from consuming or possessing an alcoholic beverage or beer in an open container during the operation of the vehicle by its driver. Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-416.

1/1/2017YesYesYes  Yes2 Citations
TX (Texas)

Texas's open container law states that a person commits an offense if the person "knowingly" possesses an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. See Tex. Code § 49.031(b).

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
UT (Utah)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
VT (Vermont)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
VA (Virginia)

Virginia law prohibits consumption of an alcoholic beverage by a person driving a motor vehicle, and provides that a driver is presumed to have consumed an alcoholic beverage if an open container is located within the passenger area of the motor vehicle, the alcoholic beverage in the open container has been at least partially removed and the appearance, conduct, odor of alcohol, speech or other physical characteristic of the driver of the motor vehicle may be reasonably associated with the consumption of an alcoholic beverage. See Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-323.1.

APIS coding is based only on provisions that specifically prohibit possession of an open container per se. Coding is not based on provisions that prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles, or that refer to possession of an open container only in connection with a presumption as to consumption of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles.

1/1/2017      No Law
2 Citations
WA (Washington)

In Washington, not only is it a traffic infraction to possess or drink an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle on a highway, but there is a separate and additional violation if an alcoholic beverage is disguised so as to drink or possess in a motor vehicle. See Wash. Rev. Code § 46.61.5195.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
WV (West Virginia)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
WI (Wisconsin)
1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes2 Citations
WY (Wyoming)

Effective July 1, 2007, Wyoming only prohibits occupants of a vehicle from consuming, transporting or possessing open containers of alcoholic beverages while their vehicle is "in motion" on a public street or public highway. In addition, by its terms, Wyoming’s open container law “shall not apply within the boundaries of” any incorporated municipality that has adopted an open container ordinance. Because Wyoming’s law does not specifically apply to a motor vehicle while it is located anywhere on a public highway or the right-of-way of a public highway whether or not the vehicle is in motion, the Any Public Highway or Right of Way variable has not been coded as of July 1, 2007. See Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31-5-235.

As of July 1, 2005, Wyoming allows bottles of wine to be resealed using a specified tamper-evident procedure, in accordance with statutory or regulatory requirements, as an exception to its open container prohibition. See Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 12-4-410(e), 31-5-235(b). Because bottles resealed in these circumstances can permissibly be transported within the passenger area of any motor vehicle under State law, and since other criteria for this variable have also been met, the Passenger Area of Any Motor Vehicle variable has been coded for Wyoming both before and after this date.

1/1/2017YesYesYesYes Yes4 Citations
US ( United States)

Please see Federal Law for this policy topic.

1/1/2017      No Law