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Indiana’s Open Container Law

Indiana’s Open Container Law

Everyone knows that a driver of a vehicle cannot drink alcohol while they are driving. What about passengers? Well, passengers can’t drink alcohol either under Indiana’s open container law.

Indiana prohibits open alcoholic beverages in a vehicle. An “open” container is one that:

(1) has been opened,

(2) has a broken seal, or

(3) has contents that have been removed.

If an alcoholic beverage is open while the motor vehicle is in operation, the motorist commits a Class C infraction. A fine of up to $500 may be entered for a Class C infraction.

There are three exceptions to this rule. First, a passenger of a transport vehicle, like an Uber or taxi, or a passenger in the living area of a house coach (such as an RV) does not violate the open container law. The law is also not violated if the container is located in a fixed, locked compartment or a fixed center console. Finally, the law is not broken if the container is located behind the last upright seat, or another area not normally occupied by a person. However, this last exception only applies when a vehicle is not equipped with a trunk, like in an SUV.

What if you’re not in a vehicle? Can you have an open container of alcohol on the sidewalk? Surprisingly, the Indiana code is silent as to open containers outside of vehicles. Individuals are allowed to have open containers in public places. It is important to remember, though, that there is a law against public intoxication. While an open container in public is not illegal, having an open container of alcohol in public can support probable cause for the charge of public intoxication.

If you have been charged with violating Indiana’s open container or public intoxication laws, contact McNeelyLaw today at 317-825-5110 to talk to an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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