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Open Container Laws

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by DALA Guest Author

Open Container Laws: Inconsistent and Unnecessary

When President Bill Clinton was in office, he signed legislation that made it necessary for all states in the U.S. to develop open container laws that set limits on how open containers of alcohol could be transported. Obviously, someone driving a car should not be driving while drinking from a can of beer, but these open container laws are much more stringent.

An open container is defined as any container with alcohol that has a broken seal. This can include cans, bottles, flasks, and other receptacles. The open container laws make it illegal for an open alcohol receptacle to be anywhere in a vehicle that might be accessible to the driver.

The problem with these open container laws is that they are inconsistent from state to state and mostly unnecessary. It is highly unlikely that the driver of a vehicle could reach all the way into the back of the car and reach an open alcohol container sitting on the back dashboard. But the lawmakers promoting this legislation ignored common sense and made it illegal for an open container to be anywhere in the car. The only exceptions are the trunk and, in some states, a locked glove compartment.

That brings us to another problem with open container laws. Some states made it a summary offense to have an open container while other states consider an open container violation a misdemeanor. Even states that consider it a misdemeanor may only fine the offender $100 or less, making these laws a joke.

Instead of working to keep our roadways safe by working on legitimate problems, lawmakers spent time and taxpayer dollars coming up with open container laws that do little to keep our roads safer and result in little consequences for offenders. We’ll all be safer when lawmakers stop making laws based on politics and start making laws that actually serve a purpose.

DALA Guest Author
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