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Can Passengers Drink Alcohol In A Car?

Most everyone knows the law that you cannot be under the influence of alcohol and be driving. You also cannot be drinking while you are driving, but what about the passengers in the car? Are they allowed to drink alcohol if they are not driving?

Open Container Laws

An open container law prohibits people from drinking in public. Every state defines what “public” is. Most states designate a vehicle as a public place, so by default, a passenger who is drinking an alcoholic beverage is in possession of an open container.  Open container laws were made to protect communities by reducing injuries from drunk driving and disorderly conduct.



43 states have open container laws. What does that mean? That seven states do not currently have open container laws. The seven states include Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, and Connecticut. With the absence of open container laws, these seven states are technically able to let vehicle passengers consume alcohol. However, there are exceptions of local ordinances banning open containers in vehicles in areas of these states.

Mississippi is the most lenient in their laws with drinking and driving. The state even allows drivers to drink alcohol as long as they remain under the legal BAC limit which is .08%.

What if You are a Passenger in a Cab, Uber, or a Limo?

The question has been asked what if you are a passenger in a cab, Uber, or limo? Can you have an open container of alcohol then? This is dependent upon state and city laws as well, but for the most part, you cannot drink alcohol in the back of a Uber, cab, or limo. In certain states, vehicles operators can obtain a special license so passengers are allowed to drink in their car. Some Uber drivers won’t allow it even if the state does because they don’t want spilled alcohol in their car. On the other hand, some Uber drivers don’t know or care about the law and will allow their passengers to drink.  To be safe, it would be better to know the laws in the city you are in.

What Should I do if I was Arrested for an Alcohol-Related Crime?

Were you or a loved one arrested for an alcohol-related crime? It is best to get the advice from a criminal defense attorney. They can help you navigate through the legal system and make sure you don’t get unnecessary time in jail or pay fines that you don’t deserve. If you are near San Diego, Bradley Corbett is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has dealt with many cases involving drunk driving. Call him now for a free consultation.

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