The law states that it is unlawful for any person, operator or occupant to be in possession of an open alcohol beverage container, or to consume any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance in a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is located on any highway.
Some states have passed statutes that are extremely restrictive in which you cannot carry any bottle, container or can on which the seal has been broken in any part of the vehicle that a driver could access, including the glove compartment. Others take a more reasonable approach and permit containers to be kept inside a locked glove box.
The offense for driving with an open container is usually assessed as a fine ranging from $25.00 to a maximum of 1000.00. The two states with the largest fines are Hawaii and Illinois. These fines may vary based upon a first, second or subsequent offense. The penalties can vary in each state and those with the harshest punishments, such as Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada and North Carolina will impose a minimum amount of 30 days in jail.
Some states, such as Georgia, add points to your license for driving with the open container in the car, while other may even suspend the driver’s license of underage drivers and passengers where an open container is inside a moving vehicle.
If you are charged and arrested for having an open container, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn about your rights, the defense you may be entitled to and how to proceed with your specific case.