Alabama’s Open Container Laws and Violation Penalties

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

As in most states, Alabama prohibits open containers of alcohol in vehicles. This article covers the specifics of Alabama's open container law, including the exceptions and penalties you'll face for an open container violation.

Alabama's Open Container Law

Alabama's open container law makes it illegal to possess an open alcohol container in the "passenger area" of a motor vehicle that's on a public roadway.

Can You Have an Open Alcohol Container in a Parked Car in Alabama?

Alabama's open container law isn't limited to situations where a person is actually driving a vehicle. So, you can be cited for a violation even if you're parked.

What Is Considered an Open Container Under Alabama Law?

An open container includes any container which is other than in the manufacturer's sealed condition.

Can Vehicle Passengers be Cited for Open Container Violations in Alabama?

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.

What Kind of Alcoholic Beverages Does Alabama's Open Container Law Apply to?

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 to Alabama's Open Container Restrictions

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 for Open Container Tickets in Alabama

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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