While it’s legal to partake in an alcoholic beverage to socialize or celebrate with your friends, state and local laws are specific about the areas that you can and can’t drink or possess open containers of alcohol.
Your car is one of the most significant points of emphasis when considering open container laws across the United States. So, what is the Missouri Open Container Law, and how does it affect you?
If you aren’t intoxicated or drinking while operating your vehicle, it may seem harmless to have an opened bottle of wine or can of beer in your car. However, 39 states (including Washington D.C.) have laws against possessing open containers of alcoholic beverages in certain public areas, including your motor vehicle while it’s on the road.
Most states enacted open container laws in response to accidents caused by drunk driving, public intoxication and other alcohol-related crimes. A significant turning point for open container laws was the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) of 1998, which incentivized states to enforce stricter drunk driving laws in exchange for funds to improve their highways.
An “open container” is an open vessel containing alcohol that is in the car’s passenger area. These containers can include, but aren’t limited to:
Missouri doesn’t have a statewide open container law, making it legal for non-driving passengers, who are 21-years-old or older, to have an open container and drink while in the car. However, you should note that this is not universally accepted in every municipality. Some cities and towns have ordinances that don’t allow open containers in the vehicle.
It’s you and your passenger’s responsibility to know your area’s local open container laws.
While it may be legal to have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, it is NEVER legal to drink and drive or drive while intoxicated. Both actions can lead to criminal and civil punishment.
If you get pulled over for a traffic stop with an open container, you may need to talk with a defense attorney with DWI experience as soon as possible. Eng & Woods Attorneys at Law have a legal staff of highly experienced lawyers who have helped clients with drinking and driving charges.
Visit our contact page to get in touch to set up a free consultation meeting, or visit our Verdicts & Settlements page to see how we’ve helped previous clients deal with DWI and other related charges.