Can Passengers Drink Alcohol In A Car In Missouri

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car in Missouri?

In the state of Missouri, it is illegal for passengers to drink alcohol in a car, even if the driver is not intoxicated. This law is known as the "open container law" and it applies to all passengers in a vehicle, regardless of their age.

Definition of Open Container Law

An open container law is a law that prohibits the possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. This includes any container that has been opened, even if it is not currently being consumed. The purpose of these laws is to prevent drunk driving and to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents.

Types of Open Container Laws

There are two main types of open container laws:

  • Driver-only laws: These laws only prohibit drivers from possessing open containers of alcohol in their vehicles. Passengers are allowed to drink alcohol in the car, as long as the driver does not have an open container.
  • Passenger-included laws: These laws prohibit all passengers in a vehicle from possessing open containers of alcohol. This includes passengers who are not drinking alcohol.

Missouri has a passenger-included open container law. This means that it is illegal for any passenger in a vehicle to possess an open container of alcohol, regardless of whether or not the driver is intoxicated.

Differences Between Driver-Only and Passenger-Included Laws

The main difference between driver-only and passenger-included open container laws is the scope of the law. Driver-only laws only apply to drivers, while passenger-included laws apply to all passengers in a vehicle.

Another difference is the level of enforcement. Driver-only laws are typically more strictly enforced than passenger-included laws. This is because it is easier for police officers to see if a driver is drinking alcohol than it is to see if a passenger is drinking alcohol.

Ease of Enforcement

Open container laws can be difficult to enforce, especially passenger-included laws. This is because it can be difficult for police officers to see if a passenger is drinking alcohol. Additionally, passengers can easily hide open containers of alcohol in their bags or pockets.

Process for Enforcing Open Container Laws

If a police officer suspects that a passenger is drinking alcohol in a car, they will typically pull the vehicle over. The officer will then ask the passenger to produce identification. If the passenger is under the age of 21, the officer will issue them a citation for underage drinking. If the passenger is over the age of 21, the officer will issue them a citation for violating the open container law.

Advantages of Open Container Laws

Open container laws have several advantages, including:

  • They help to prevent drunk driving: Open container laws make it more difficult for people to drink and drive. This is because people are less likely to drink alcohol if they know that they will be cited for doing so.
  • They reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents: Open container laws help to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents. This is because people who are drinking alcohol are more likely to be involved in accidents.
  • They make it easier for police officers to enforce drunk driving laws: Open container laws make it easier for police officers to enforce drunk driving laws. This is because police officers can use open container violations as evidence of drunk driving.

Disadvantages of Open Container Laws

Open container laws also have some disadvantages, including:

  • They can be difficult to enforce: Open container laws can be difficult to enforce, especially passenger-included laws. This is because it can be difficult for police officers to see if a passenger is drinking alcohol. Additionally, passengers can easily hide open containers of alcohol in their bags or pockets.
  • They can lead to racial profiling: Open container laws can lead to racial profiling. This is because police officers are more likely to stop and search vehicles that are occupied by people of color.
  • They can be used to harass people: Open container laws can be used to harass people. This is because police officers can use open container violations as an excuse to stop and search people without probable cause.

How to Avoid Getting a Citation for Violating an Open Container Law

There are several things that you can do to avoid getting a citation for violating an open container law, including:

  • Do not drink alcohol in a car: The best way to avoid getting a citation for violating an open container law is to not drink alcohol in a car.
  • If you are a passenger, do not allow anyone to drink alcohol in the car: If you are a passenger in a car, do not allow anyone to drink alcohol in the car. If you do, you could be cited for violating the open container law.
  • If you are pulled over, be polite and cooperative: If you are pulled over for violating an open container law, be polite and cooperative. This will make it more likely that the officer will let you go with a warning.

What to Do If You Are Cited for Violating an Open Container Law

If you are cited for violating an open container law, you should contact an attorney. An attorney can help you to understand your rights and to fight the charges against you.

Conclusion

Open container laws are a controversial issue. There are both advantages and disadvantages to these laws. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to have open container laws is a matter of public policy.

FAQ

Q: What is the penalty for violating an open container law in Missouri?
A: The penalty for violating an open container law in Missouri is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Q: Can I drink alcohol in a car if I am not driving?
A: No, it is illegal for any passenger in a vehicle to possess an open container of alcohol in Missouri, regardless of whether or not the driver is intoxicated.

Q: What should I do if I am pulled over for violating an open container law?
A: If you are pulled over for violating an open container law, you should be polite and cooperative. This will make it more likely that the officer will let you go with a warning.

Closing Statement

Open container laws are a complex issue with both advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to have open container laws is a matter of public policy.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions about open container laws, you should contact an attorney.