Open Containers in Public
It may seem obvious that it’s illegal to drink and drive, but did you know in most states it’s even illegal to have an open container of alcohol in public? There is no federal law on the restriction of open containers, but the states are free to legislate the issue. In some cases the state leaves it entirely up to the local level. As a result, from coast to coast, state to state, and even town to town, the United States has quite varied open container laws.
Every state has an outright ban on open containers except for Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. In these states any type of public open container law is from the local government.
While the vast majority of localities have an outright ban on open containers in public, there’s a few interesting exceptions that are worth mentioning. For instance, in Louisiana only the French Quarter of New Orleans allows public alcohol consumption. Even then, the alcohol must be in a plastic container. Butte, Montana on the other hand has no law pertaining to open containers. Las Vegas, Nevada allows public drinking during certain parts of the year while the Las Vegas Strip has no restriction other than the container must be plastic. The Power & Light District of Kansas City permits any open plastic container, contrary to the rest of Kansas City. Savannah, Georgia also permits plastic containers; however they must be 16 ounces or less and are only allowed in the historic district.
With the restrictions on open container laws being so varied it’s only appropriate for the consequences to be just as wide-ranging. Penalties for open container violation are generally mild commonly resulting in a small fine. Of course extenuating circumstances (previous incidents, an altercation, etc.) may effect the punishment.
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