How Does the Open Container Law Apply to Drivers & Passengers?

Leaving a party with an open bottle of wine or another alcoholic beverage? If you are heading home in your vehicle, whether as a driver or passenger, you need to understand New York’s open container law for this situation as well as the exceptions that apply. Avoid a traffic infraction that could lead to a fine, court costs, and possible assessments.

If you have already received a traffic infraction for this violation or any other violation in New York City, you may want to consider fighting your ticket. At Stites Law, we have an outstanding record of success in effectively contesting tickets of all kinds. Having represented over 125,000 individuals throughout our past, we have gained considerable experience and developed professional relationships in traffic courts that can work to your advantage.

What is New York’s Open Container Law for Drivers & Passengers?

The open container law for drivers and passengers in New York City and beyond is Section 1227 of the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law. Under this law, it is illegal to have open containers of alcoholic beverages in your car as both a driver and a passenger. This law pertains whether you are actually driving down a public roadway or parked.

Exceptions to this law exist if you are in a passenger vehicle that is equipped to transport 10 or more people. These are passenger vehicles for hire that operate under a government permit, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation. In this situation, you are allowed to possess or consume an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in the vehicle.

The other exception applies to driving home with a partially drunk bottle of wine from a restaurant that has been licensed to sell wine. In this situation, you must have bought a meal at the restaurant where you drank part of the bottle of wine. You also must ensure that the wine bottle is closed and sealed in a bag that will make it obvious if the bag has been opened and you must have a dated receipt from the restaurant for your purchase of the wine. The bag with the wine must be placed and carried in the trunk of your car. If you don’t have a truck, the bottle must be put behind the back seat or someplace in the vehicle where no one will sit.

What are the Penalties for Violating the Open Container Law?

Violating the open container law for drivers and passengers is punishable by:

  • up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $150 on a first conviction.
  • A second conviction within 18 months is punishable by up to 45 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $300.
  • A third or subsequent conviction within the 18 month timeframe is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $450.

Turn to Stites Law for Help

If you wish to get a legal opinion about your traffic ticket, whether it concerns the above law or some other traffic violation, we urge you to reach out to our firm. We offer a free, initial consultation in which you can discuss your case and get the legal advice you need concerning whether or not to fight back.

Contact a traffic ticket lawyer at (212) 729-0472 or through our online request form today.