Open container laws apply to two different situations: walking down the street and driving in a vehicle. These laws are in place to discourage public intoxication and driving while under the influence. Find out how to avoid breaking the law and what happens if you get an open container ticket.
Las Vegas Open Container Law
First, let’s define what it means to have an open container. If the container has been opened or has a broken seal, then it’s classified as an open container.
The type of open container law depends on your location in Las Vegas. If you’re walking down the Las Vegas Strip, then it’s fine to be consuming alcohol as long as it’s not in a glass bottle. However, if you’re walking in downtown Las Vegas or on Fremont Street, then you can’t be drinking from glass or aluminum containers. The alcohol also must be purchased from venues with tavern licenses.
Excluding the Strip, you could also receive an open container citation in Las Vegas for having an open alcohol container within 1,000 of a bus stop, church, synagogue, school, hospital, special care facility, homeless shelter, or the store where you purchased a closed container of alcohol.
When in a vehicle, Las Vegas has open container laws that apply to drivers and passengers. You can get a ticket for an open container if alcohol is open anywhere in the driver or passenger compartment of a vehicle.
Exceptions to the Law
In certain vehicles, open containers of alcohol are allowed in the passenger area of a vehicle that’s primarily used to transport paying customers or in the living area of a house coach or house trailer. This means that you won’t receive an open container citation for open containers in:
- Shuttles or busses
- Living quarters of a house coach or house trailer
Since the law only specified that open containers can’t be placed in the driver or passenger areas of a vehicle, it is implied that the trunk is also an acceptable location for open containers of alcohol.
Penalties for an Open Container Citation
What happens if you get an open container ticket? The penalties depend on the location of the open container. However, for every situation, breaking the open container law is a misdemeanor.
- Possessing an open glass container in unincorporated Las Vegas (the Strip) is a misdemeanor crime with a fine of $250 or 30 days in jail.
- Possessing an open container in incorporated Las Vegas (Downtown) is a misdemeanor crime with a fine of $640.
- Possessing an open container in a vehicle in incorporated Las Vegas is a misdemeanor with a fine of $640 and two driver’s license demerit points
- Possession of an open container in a vehicle in unincorporated Las Vegas is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000, up to 6 months in jail, and two driver’s license demerit points.
If you receive a ticket for an open container in a work zone at a time when workers are present, the penalties can be doubled. The maximum additional penalty that can be added for a work zone is a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, and 120 hours of community service. However, it’s reassuring to know that an open container isn’t a felony.
What to Do if Charged
If you’ve been charged with an open container citation, it’s pretty rare that the charge will be dropped or proven false.
The only real defenses to an open container charge are that:
- The alcohol was in a permitted location
- The container was still sealed
- The container didn’t actually contain alcohol
However, with an experienced attorney, there is room to negotiate the penalty fees and jail time.
The easiest way to avoid the things that happen if you get an open container ticket is to know the laws. If you’ve been charged with an open container citation, contact our expert criminal defense lawyers.