United States open-container laws

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In the United States, open container laws regulate or prohibit the existence of open containers of alcohol in certain areas, as well as the active consumption of alcohol in those areas. "Public places" in this context refers to openly public places such as sidewalks, parks and vehicles. It does not include nominally private spaces which are open to the public, such as bars, restaurants and stadiums. The purpose of these laws is to restrict public intoxication, especially the dangerous act of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Open container laws are state laws, rather than federal laws; thus they vary from state to state.

Open containers in public[edit]

The majority of U.S. states and localities prohibit possessing and/or consuming an open container of alcohol in public places, such as on the street, while 24 states do not have statutes regarding public consumption of alcohol.[1] However, the definition of "public place" is not always clear. California is unique in that it does have a state law on the books, but similar to states that have no law, the state law only applies to areas in which the "city, county, or city and county have enacted an ordinance".[2]

Open container restrictions are not always rigorously enforced, and open containers may in fact be legally permitted in nominally private events which are open to the public. This is especially true in downtown districts and during holidays and sporting events; see tailgate party.

Places where legal[edit]

There are public places in the United States where open containers are explicitly permitted:

  • Hood River, Oregon. This port city that rests along the Columbia River has no open container laws, and allows drinking in public.[3]
  • The city of Butte, Montana, prohibits open containers only between 2am and 8am. Drinking openly in the street is allowed throughout the city (and elsewhere in Montana where no local laws exist) during the other 18 hours of the day.[4] A recent attempt to pass a comprehensive open container prohibition in Butte met with widespread opposition and was dropped.[5] However, Montana state law does prohibit open containers in vehicles on a highway.[6]
  • In the Power & Light District of Kansas City, Missouri, a special Missouri state law[7] preempts Kansas City's ordinary local law against open containers[8] and allows the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the street in open plastic containers.[9] Although Missouri has no statewide open container law, the Power & Light District remains the only part of Kansas City where open containers are allowed actually on the street, and throughout the rest of Kansas City, open containers remain expressly prohibited.
  • In unincorporated Clark County, Nevada (including the Las Vegas Strip) the laws allow the possession and consumption on the street of alcoholic beverages except within parking lots or, if the alcohol was purchased in a closed container, on the premises of or within 1000 feet of the store from which it was purchased.[10] It is also illegal to possess a glass or aluminum beverage container on specially designated streets during special events, such as the Strip on New Year's Eve.[11]
  • The entertainment district along Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, is specially exempt from both Tennessee's statewide open container ban and Memphis's local open container ban, thereby permitting the open consumption of alcoholic beverages on the street.
  • The city of New Orleans, Louisiana allows the possession and consumption on the street of any alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container (not in glass bottles or containers). In some parts of Louisiana, however, open containers are still prohibited, despite the fact that drive-thru frozen daiquiri stands are legal.[12]
  • In the Savannah Historic District of Downtown Savannah, Georgia, city law allows possession and consumption on the street of one alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container of not more than 16 ounces.[13] Because Georgia has no state public open container law, the city law governs. Throughout the rest of Savannah, however, open containers remain prohibited.
  • Within an approximately 80-acre area of Downtown Dalton, Georgia, city law allows possession and consumption on the street of one alcoholic beverage in an open paper or plastic cup of no more than 16 ounces between 12:30 p.m. and midnight.[14] The boundaries of the permitted area are Hawthorne Street, the western right-of-way of the L&N Railway, Morris Street, and Thornton Avenue.[14] The beverage must be dispensed by a licensed establishment in the designated area in a cup that meets specifications issued by the Downtown Dalton Development Authority.[14] Throughout the rest of Dalton, however, open containers remain prohibited.[15]
  • The town of Fredericksburg, Texas allows open containers of beer or wine (no liquor) in its Main street shopping district.
  • The state of Ohio, since 2015, allows cities to create a limited number of designated "outdoor refreshment areas" where alcoholic beverages are permitted (Sub. H.B. No. 47). Cities that have created these districts include Canton, Delaware, Hamilton, Lancaster, Lorain, Middletown and Toledo.[16][17][18]
  • The city of Mobile, Alabama allows open plastic containers with a commercially printed name and/or logo of a designated licensee.[19]
  • The city of Tampa, Florida allows up to two drinks in plastic containers per person on the Tampa Riverwalk, purchased from one of the licensed facilities along it, between 11am and 1am.[20]

Indiana actually has no restrictions on the open carrying of alcohol in public spaces. Patrons are allowed to carry an alcoholic beverage in its original container out of a premise and consume it on the sidewalks. [21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OPEN CONTAINER AND OPEN CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL STATE STATUTES". National Conference of State Legislatures. May 13, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  2. ^ "California Business and Professions Code Section 25620 – California Attorney Resources – California Laws". Law.onecle.com. February 22, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  3. ^ Grasso, Chelsey. "8 Cities Where You Can Drink In Public — Which Is Useful Information To Have When You're Looking For A Good Time". Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  4. ^ "Ordinance banning open containers of alcohol in Butte now a reality | KBZK.com | Z7 | Bozeman, Montana". Archived from the original on March 6, 2014.
  5. ^ Post, Justin (November 5, 2007). "Officials reconsider alcohol ordinance: Open container proposal may go different way". The Montana Standard. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  6. ^ Services, Dale Matheson, Montana Legislative. "61-8-460. Unlawful possession of open alcoholic beverage container in motor vehicle on highway". leg.mt.gov.
  7. ^ Section 311.086, Revised Statutes of Missouri
  8. ^ Sections 10-134 and 10-135, Kansas City Code of Ordinances
  9. ^ Rick Alm, "Drinking to be allowed on street in Power & Light District," The Kansas City Star, July 27, 2005
  10. ^ "Municode Library". municode.com. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  11. ^ "Municode Library". municode.com. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  12. ^ See Louisiana Revised Statutes 32:300(B)(3)(b).
  13. ^ Savannah City Code Section 6-1215
  14. ^ a b c "Dalton, Ga Code of Ordinances, Sec. 6-9(c)". Municode. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  15. ^ "Dalton, Ga Code of Ordinances, Sec. 6-9(a)". Municode. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  16. ^ Wang, Robert (June 3, 2016). "City officials, First Friday attendees kick off outdoor refreshment district". The Repository. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  17. ^ Henderson, Tim (October 28, 2016). "To Enliven Downtowns, Some Cities Promote Public Drinking". The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  18. ^ Salomone, Cecilia (July 9, 2018). "Middletown expands its Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area". Dayton Business Journal. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  19. ^ PRESCOTTE STOKES III, Open-container enforcement will get stricter in Downtown Mobile July 13, 2016
  20. ^ "The Ultimate Guide to Open Container Laws in Tampa Bay". Clark Law. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  21. ^ King, Robert; Haneline, Amy (January 26, 2018). "Everything you need to know about Indiana's alcohol laws". IndyStar.

External links[edit]