Alabama’s Open Container Laws, Penalties, and Consequences

Learn about the penalties for an open container conviction in Alabama.

Alabama law prohibits any person from possessing an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a vehicle. An open container includes any container which is other than in the manufacturer’s sealed condition.

Alabama’s open container rules apply to everyone inside a car that’s located on a public highway or right-of-way, including the driver and passengers.

Alcoholic beverage. Alabama defines “alcoholic beverage” to include any beer, malt beverage, wine, distilled spirits, mixed drinks, and effectively any drinkable liquids of at least .5% alcohol. So, some open containers of low-alcohol drinks (like non-alcoholic beers and mixers) may be permitted.

Exceptions

Certain vehicles. Alabama’s open container law isn’t applicable to passengers riding in certain types of vehicles, including statutorily authorized for-hire vehicles and buses operated by a holder of a commercial driver’s license.

Motorhomes and campers. Passengers in the living quarters of a mobile home or camper are also exempt from the open container law.

Areas of the vehicle. Alabama’s open container laws are meant to apply to the passenger areas of vehicles. So, the restrictions aren’t applicable to items in the trunk or luggage compartment of a car. Items located in the bed of a truck or in a locked compartment behind the front seat of a pickup truck are also exempt.

Unknown to the driver. Drivers who didn’t know of and could not have accessed an open container found by law enforcement aren’t guilty of the violation.

Running vehicle. The open container law also contains an exception for vehicles that are parked away from public right-of-ways and aren’t running.

Restaurant wine. Alabama does authorize the transportation of a partially-removed alcoholic beverage after dining at a restaurant. However, the bottle must be resealed by the restaurant and stored according to the rules stated below.

Fines

An open container violation is a class C misdemeanor in Alabama. A conviction will result in a fine of up to $25. This violation will not have any effect on the person’s driver’s license, nor is there any jail penalty.

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