When going out for a drink, people have many things to take into consideration as they find a ride home. If they choose to have a designated driver, then they have to make sure that the driver is sober before getting behind the wheel and that no opened alcohol containers are present in the vehicle’s cabin.
Minnesota’s Open Bottle Law prohibits both drivers and passengers from possessing or drinking an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle (regardless of whether or not the vehicle is in motion). Possession means alcohol held by the person or on their person (such as in a jacket or pant pocket). It also includes consciously exercising dominion and control over an open bottle. Open bottles are not permitted in any area of the vehicle normally occupied by either the driver or passengers – this includes underneath the seats, in the backseat, or in the glove compartment.
An owner or driver may not keep open containers in a car, or to allow them to be kept in the car. The safest and legal way to transport alcohol is to keep it in the trunk of the car where it cannot be reached. Unlike DWI, the open bottle law does not apply to motorboats. There are also exceptions for buses, limousines, and pedal pubs.
A person in violation of the open bottle law will face a misdemeanor charge, which could result in up to 90 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. Contact F. Clayton Tyler for expert legal defense if you or a friend have been arrested.