What Are Open Container Laws?

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a serious offense in every state. State legislatures are enacting more strict DUI laws. They aim to help prevent serious injuries and death from drugged and drunk driving. Part of these laws also deal with open alcohol containers and cannabis vessels in a vehicle. When enforced, states have seen a reduction in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

Open container laws ban the drinking and possession of open alcoholic beverages in vehicles by drivers and passengers. Penalties for an open container conviction vary widely by state. You may face a small fine, receive a jail sentence, or lose your driving privileges. Below, you will find essential information on open container laws by state.

In 1998, Congress passed federal legislation establishing a program to encourage states to adopt laws that ban open containers of alcoholic beverages in the entire passenger area of a motor vehicle. Known as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), states have a financial incentive if they follow the federal standard banning all open alcohol containers anywhere in the vehicle. To comply with the federal statute, state law must apply to both the driver and passengers and cover both possessing and drinking alcohol from an open container.

Open container laws prohibit the presence of any unsealed container carrying an alcoholic beverage. An open container has a broken seal, a missing cap, or some contents removed. Containers can include: Bottles, Cans, Jars, Flasks

Generally, the law allows an open container in your vehicle’s trunk, locked glove compartment, or unreachable space from the passenger area. You can have open containers in certain types of vehicles when you’re a passenger. These include: Limousines, Buses, Vehicles used for transportation for pay, like a taxi, Living quarters of motor homes, campers, or recreational vehicles

Open container laws apply to legalized cannabis possession in many states. As with alcohol-related open container prohibitions, you can’t consume or have unsealed packages or receptacles of cannabis or cannabis products in the passenger area of your vehicle.

These types of open container laws are more recent and still evolving. As more states legalize cannabis use and possession, states will explore the complexities of managing the laws surrounding it.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So, it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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