Under no circumstances is it permissible to drive a vehicle while drinking or consuming an alcoholic beverage. But did you know you cannot even possess the open container of alcohol in a car? Neither the driver or any passengers are allowed to consume or possess open containers of alcohol in a car. New York has some of the toughest open container (of alcohol) laws in the country.

The main reason the state is tough on open containers of alcohol in cars is because legislators consider the behavior to be a gateway to more serious crime. Safety of other drivers and passengers is also top of mind. Lastly, the federal government, through the Transportation Equity for the 21st Century Act, provides states with open container laws with funds to help maintain public roadways and highways in the state. The open container laws then, are meant to be a deterrent, protect public safety, and help maintain the state’s roadways.

New York’s Open Container (of Alcohol) Laws

In New York it is illegal to possess or consume an open bottle of alcohol in a public area. So it follows then that the driver and all passengers in a vehicle, cannot consume alcohol, while driving. Whether or not you are the driver is irrelevant. The law takes it a step further making the simple possession of an open container of alcohol in the car a violation. It does not matter if the open container of alcohol is in the passenger compartment, back seat, or glove compartment. The only safe place to transport an open container of alcohol in a car is in a locked trunk.

While the penalty for violating New York’s open container laws is a fine, the violation itself is considered a traffic infraction. If a law enforcement official sees or suspects there is an open container of alcohol in the car, enough probable cause exists to search the car, the driver and all passengers.

Additional charges can be added like driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence of drugs or a combination of both. The police officer may ask the vehicle driver to submit to field sobriety testing and request you provide a blood or breath test.

Keep in mind that you cannot park the car and then start drinking or leave the open container of alcohol in the car and then step out of the car. Both consumption and possession of alcohol triggers the violation of New York’s open container laws.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Xavier DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.