Open Container Laws in St. Clairsville

While they can be confusing, an experienced St. Clairsville OVI lawyer will adeptly explain Ohio’s Open Container laws to you. These laws are part of Ohio’s comprehensive OVI laws, designed to safeguard the public from individuals who drive drunk or become intoxicated in public areas. Open container laws place restrictions on the possession of open bottles or cans while driving or walking in public places.

What the Law Says

In accordance with the law, nobody in a motor vehicle is permitted to consume alcohol (including beer or any other intoxicating liquor). Additionally, drivers and passengers are prohibited from possessing open containers in the vehicle. These regulations apply whether the vehicle is in motion on a street or stationary on a highway, street, public property, or private property open to the public for parking or passage.

Moreover, it is unlawful to carry an open container (such as a cup, bottle, or can) of alcohol in a public space, unless the individual in possession of the container is in a designated area that holds a permit allowing it.

Exceptions to the Open Container Law

There are two instances where an open container of alcohol is permissible in motor vehicles. The first is in a chauffeured limousine, subject to certain conditions:

  • Only the passenger(s) are allowed to consume alcohol; the driver may not.
  • The passenger must not consume alcohol if seated in the front seat where the driver is.
  • The passenger and their guest(s) must have a prearranged contract with the owner of the limousine and have paid a fee.

The second exception relates to opened bottles of wine. Similar conditions apply to this exception:

  • The wine must be purchased from a licensed store or establishment.
  • It must be stored in the trunk or a non-passenger area of the vehicle where the driver and passengers do not typically sit and where the driver cannot access it. If the vehicle lacks a trunk, the bottle must be stored behind the last upright seat.
  • The bottle must be securely resealed in a manner that clearly demonstrates it has been opened again or tampered with.

Exceptions for open containers in public places are as follows:

  • Alcohol, namely beer and liquor, may be consumed at a convention facility.
  • Alcohol that was purchased and consumed at an establishment with a permit to sell it, whether permanent or temporary.
  • Wine and liquor tastings.
  • Alcohol brought to a music festival, provided the property owner permits it.
  • Alcohol brought into an orchestra performance, given that the proprietor allows it.
  • Alcohol brought into a racetrack or other motorsports facility, as long as permitted by the owner.
  • Alcohol purchased from a vendor at an outdoor refreshment area, while remaining within the designated area.
  • Occupying a commercial quadricycle on the road with certain restrictions (e.g., not in the front seat, limited quantity of beer or wine, not on streets with traffic).

Open Container Penalties

While exceptions exist, carrying an open container or glass of alcohol in public places is generally prohibited in Ohio. Additionally, having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle can result in an enhanced sentence for an OVI charge.

Violation of open container laws outside a vehicle is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, accompanied by a fine of $150.

A violation of open container laws inside a vehicle is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $250.

For professional legal assistance regarding OVI-related charges, including open container violations, reach out to St. Clairsville Criminal Lawyer Group at (330) 992-3036 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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