Open containers in public
The French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, where the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages in open plastic containers is allowed in the street
The vast majority of U.S. states and localities prohibit possessing and/or consuming an open container of alcohol in public (i.e. on the street). Only seven states (Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Pennsylvania) have no state law against general public possession and/or consumption of an open container by a person of legal drinking age, although nearly all local jurisdictions in those states do prohibit public open containers.[citation needed]
Police in some college towns unofficially 'look the other way' in regard to open container restrictions. This is especially true in downtown districts and during major athletic events; see tailgate party.
Places where legal
There are a few public places in the United States, however, where open containers are always permitted in the street:
The city of Butte, Montana, has no open container law whatsoever. Because Montana also has no statewide public open container law, drinking openly in the street is allowed throughout the entire city. A recent attempt to pass a comprehensive open container ordinance in Butte met with widespread opposition and was dropped. Butte does, however, ban open containers in vehicles.
In the Power & Light District of Kansas City, Missouri, a special Missouri state law preempts Kansas City's ordinary local law against open containers and allows the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the street in open plastic containers. Although Missouri has no statewide open container law, the Power & Light District remains the only part of Kansas City where open containers are allowed actually on the street, and throughout the rest of Kansas City, open containers remain expressly prohibited.
On the Las Vegas Strip of Las Vegas, Nevada, unlike every other locality in Nevada, city law allows the possession and consumption on the street of any alcoholic beverage in an open container throughout the year, although the container must be plastic for certain special events such as the 4th of July and New Year's Eve. Because Nevada has no statewide public open container law, the city law governs. Although open containers usually are allowed throughout the rest of Las Vegas, they are prohibited at certain times of the year, except in the Strip.
The entertainment district along Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, is specially exempt from both Tennessee's statewide open container ban and Memphis's local open container ban, thereby permitting the open consumption of alcoholic beverages on the street.
The city of New Orleans, Louisiana allows the possession and consumption on the street of any alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container. Because Louisiana has no statewide public open container law, the city law governs.
In the Savannah Historic District of Downtown Savannah, Georgia, city law allows possession and consumption on the street of one alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container of not more than 16 ounces. Because Georgia has no state public open container law, the city law governs. Throughout the rest of Savannah, however, open containers remain prohibited.
Places where tolerated
Certain places in the US are associated with public drinking and it is tolerated there, to varying extents, despite being illegal.
Duval Street in Key West, Florida is a commercial zone, lined with bars and restaurants.
Open containers in vehicles
Prohibition of Open Containers of Alcohol in Motor Vehicles as of September, 2007
To comply with TEA-21, a state's motor vehicle open container laws must:
Prohibit both possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and consumption of any alcoholic beverage;
Cover the passenger area of any motor vehicle, including unlocked glove compartments and any other areas of the vehicle that are readily accessible to the driver or passengers while in their seats;
Apply to all open alcoholic beverage containers and all alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits that contain one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume;
Apply to all vehicle occupants except for passengers of vehicles designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of people for compensation (such as buses, taxi cabs, and limousines) or the living quarters of motor homes;
Apply to all vehicles on a public highway or the right-of-way (i.e. on the shoulder) of a public highway;
Require primary enforcement of the law, rather than requiring probable cause that another violation had been committed before allowing enforcement of the open container law.
Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia are in compliance. Alaska, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Wyoming have similar limits on the possession of open containers in vehicles, but not to the level of TEA-21 compliance.
As of November, 2007, only one state (Mississippi) allows drivers to consume alcohol while driving (as long as the driver stays below the 0.08% blood alcohol content limit for drunk driving), and only eight states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) allow passengers to consume alcohol while the vehicle is in motion. Still, local laws in these states may limit open containers in vehicles, although those local laws do not impact the state's compliance or noncompliance with TEA-21.
See also
Alcohol laws of the United States by state
Alcohol laws of Kansas (in compliance with TEA-21)
Alcohol laws of Missouri (not in compliance with TEA-21)
Alcohol laws of New York (in compliance with TEA-21)
Alcohol laws of North Carolina (in compliance with TEA-21)
Alcohol laws of Oklahoma (in compliance with TEA-21)
Vendo (activity)
External links
NIH Alcohol Policy Information System
Footnotes
^ John Grant Emeigh, "Open-container law important, area communities, police say," The Montana Standard, July 1, 2007
^ Justin Post, "Officials reconsider alcohol ordinance: Open container proposal may go different way," The Montana Standard, November 5, 2007
^ Section 311.086, Revised Statutes of Missouri
^ Sections 10-134 and 10-135, Kansas City Code of Ordinances
^ Rick Alm, "Drinking to be allowed on street in Power & Light District," The Kansas City Star, July 27, 2005
^ a b Las Vegas Municipal Code Sections 10.76.010-020, 10.77.020-030
^ Savannah City Code Section 6-1215
^ a b c d e f g U.S. Department of Transportation - NHTSA - Open Container Laws and Alcohol Involved Crashes: Some Preliminary Data - DOT HS 809 426 - April 2002
Categories: State law in the United States | Alcohol law in the United States | United States criminal lawHidden categories: Articles needing cleanup from January 2010 | All pages needing cleanup | Wikipedia introduction cleanup from January 2010 | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from July 2009

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