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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Changes Over Time for Open Containers of Alcohol in Motor Vehicles
Jurisdiction Date Range 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)

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.

1/1/1998 - 7/31/2000      
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.

8/1/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
AZ (Arizona)
1/1/1998 - 7/17/2000      
AZ (Arizona)
7/18/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
CO (Colorado)
1/1/1998 - 6/30/2005      
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).

7/1/2005 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes2 Citations
FL (Florida)
1/1/1998 - 9/30/2000YesYesYesYes Yes2 Citations
FL (Florida)
10/1/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
GA (Georgia)
1/1/1998 - 6/30/2001YesYesYes  Yes2 Citations
GA (Georgia)
7/1/2001 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
HI (Hawaii)
1/1/1998 - 4/26/2000YesYesYes YesYes5 Citations
HI (Hawaii)
4/27/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes9 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.

1/1/1998 - 6/30/2000YesYes YesYesYes7 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.

7/1/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes9 Citations
IN (Indiana)

Prior to its amendment on July 1, 2005, Indiana's open container law made it unlawful for the operator of a motor vehicle to have a specified minimum alcohol content level and to “knowingly” allow an open container to be in the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle. This law did not specifically apply to a motor vehicle located on a public highway. See Ind. Code § 9-30-15-3.

1/1/1998 - 6/30/2005YesYesYesYes Yes5 Citations
IN (Indiana)
7/1/2005 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes7 Citations
IA (Iowa)

Prior to its amendment in 1999, Iowa's law applied only to the driver and only prohibited possession of an open container with "intent to consume," not possession of an open container standing alone. APIS coding for this policy topic is based only on provisions that specifically prohibit possession of an open container per se.

1/1/1998 - 6/30/1999      No Law
2 Citations
IA (Iowa)
7/1/1999 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes5 Citations
KY (Kentucky)
1/1/1998 - 9/30/2000      
KY (Kentucky)
10/1/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
LA (Louisiana)
1/1/1998 - 6/5/2000      
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."

6/6/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYes  YesYes3 Citations
ME (Maine)
1/1/1998 - 9/17/1999      
ME (Maine)
9/18/1999 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes2 Citations
MD (Maryland)
1/1/1998 - 9/29/2002      
MD (Maryland)
9/30/2002 - 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.

1/1/1998 - 10/9/2000      
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.

10/10/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes7 Citations
MT (Montana)
1/1/1998 - 9/30/2005      
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.

10/1/2005 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
NE (Nebraska)
1/1/1998 - 8/27/1999      
NE (Nebraska)
8/28/1999 - 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.

1/1/1998 - 8/13/2000      
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.

8/14/2000 - 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.

1/1/1998 - 6/14/2001YesYesYes YesYes2 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.

6/15/2001 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
NY (New York)

Prior to its amendment in 2000, New York's law only prohibited possession of an open container with the “intent to consume," not possession of an open container standing alone. See N.Y. Veh. & Traf. § 1227. APIS coding for this policy topic is based only on provisions that specifically prohibit possession of an open container per se.

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.

1/1/1998 - 8/9/2000      No Law
1 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.

8/10/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes6 Citations
NC (North Carolina)
1/1/1998 - 8/31/2000YesYes YesYesYes3 Citations
NC (North Carolina)
9/1/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes7 Citations
PA (Pennsylvania)
1/1/1998 - 8/31/2000      
PA (Pennsylvania)
9/1/2000 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes6 Citations
RI (Rhode Island)
1/1/1998 - 7/1/1999      
RI (Rhode Island)
7/2/1999 - 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.

1/1/1998 - 6/30/1999YesYesYesYes Yes2 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.

7/1/1999 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
TX (Texas)
1/1/1998 - 8/31/2001      
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).

9/1/2001 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
VT (Vermont)
1/1/1998 - 6/20/2002      
VT (Vermont)
6/21/2002 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes4 Citations
WV (West Virginia)
1/1/1998 - 6/9/2015      
WV (West Virginia)
6/10/2015 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYesYesYes3 Citations
WY (Wyoming)

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.

1/1/1998 - 6/30/2001      
WY (Wyoming)

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.

7/1/2001 - 6/30/2007YesYesYes YesYes4 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.

7/1/2007 - 1/1/2017YesYesYesYes Yes4 Citations