Hunter & Cassidy Law

Open container danger? Not so fast!

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Motor vehicle accidents, Personal Injury

Missouri is one of six states in the United States that does not have open container laws that apply to everyone in the vehicle. These laws are in place to prevent drivers and passengers from carrying open containers of alcohol inside their vehicles.

One might think it is shocking that a state allows people to carry open bottles of liquor in their cars while driving, and in many cases, it is.

While there are no state-wide laws that prohibit this in Missouri, about 30 municipalities in the state prohibit carrying open containers of alcohol while driving. In other words, while it’s not illegal at the state level, it is at the local level in many places in Missouri.

In addition, this does not mean drivers can drink while driving. While passengers can carry open containers inside a moving vehicle, drivers cannot drink, drive or hold an open container while driving.

What are open container laws?

Open container laws prohibit drivers (and usually passengers) of a vehicle from carrying an open container of alcohol in the vehicle while the car is moving or, in some instances, even if you park your car.

This usually means that if a person is transporting an open container of alcohol, they must secure it in the trunk or somewhere where no one in the passenger area can access it.

The passenger area is usually anywhere inside the vehicle where a person can sit and any location in the car that the driver or a passenger can access, like the glove compartment or the center console.

What happens if you get caught?

Even though there is no state-wide law, it is not easy to know which municipality has these laws, so it is best to avoid the practice altogether.

If law enforcement catches you driving in possession of an open container and you are the driver, you are committing a crime.

If you are the passenger, you are allowed to carry an open container. As the driver, however, the authorities can fine you, arrest you and sentence you to jail time if you are in possession of the container.

Every day, thousands of accidents happen in the United States. Many of those accidents occur because of people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and in many cases, some of these individuals carry these substances in their vehicles.

Carrying an open container of alcohol while you drive your car from A to B is never a good idea, no matter where you are.


If a car hits you and you later find that the driver was carrying an open container of alcohol, smell alcohol on their breath, or see them drinking, make sure you report this activity to the police.

In addition, if you sustain an injury, you may have a claim, if any passengers sustain an injury, they may have a claim. Typically, these claims are for medical costs, loss of wages and possibly pain and suffering, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Remain alert!

It is critical to remain alert and aware of these behaviors and understand that if someone commits a crime that hurts you, you could have a personal injury claim.

You need experienced and competent representation in these cases, especially when the laws are unclear and different areas, all with different laws, are so close together. Make sure you contact an attorney to discuss whether you have a case.