Arizona’s Open Container Laws and Penalties

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

Like most other states, Arizona has an open container law that prohibits open alcohol containers in vehicles. This article covers specifically what the law says and the penalties for open container tickets.

Open Container Law in Arizona

Arizona law prohibits any person from possessing an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle if:

  • the beverage is open or has a broken seal, or
  • the contents of the beverage have been partially removed.

To violate the open container law, the vehicle doesn't necessarily have to be in motion.

Where Arizona's Open Container Restrictions Apply

The restriction applies to all vehicles located on a public highway or right-of-way and all persons within the vehicle, including the driver and passengers.

Types of Drinks Covered by the Open Container Law

For purposes of the open container law, Arizona defines "alcoholic beverage" to include any beer, malt beverage, wine, distilled spirits, mixed drinks, and effectively any beverage of at least .5% alcohol. So, some open non-alcoholic beers and mixers might be allowed.

Exceptions to Arizona's Open Container Law

Arizona's open container law contains a number of exceptions for certain types of vehicles and locations within vehicles.

Open Container Exceptions for Passengers in Some Vehicles

Arizona's open container law isn't applicable to passengers riding in certain types of vehicles, including statutorily authorized limousines, taxis, and buses. Riders in the passenger areas of these vehicles are permitted to possess and consume alcohol.

Also, Arizona recently amended its statute to include an exception for "Transportation Network Company" vehicles. These are vehicles operating under rideshare apps like Lyft or Uber that provide for-hire transportation.

Open Container Exceptions for Trunks and Inaccessible Areas of the Vehicle

Arizona's open container laws are intended to apply to the passenger areas of vehicles. So, the restrictions aren't applicable to items in a locked glove box, the trunk of the car, or behind the back seat (if the car doesn't have a trunk) as long as they are not readily accessible to the driver or passengers.

Fines and Jail Time for Open Container Violations.

An open container violation is a class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona. A conviction will result in a fine of up to $750 and a maximum of four months in jail.

However, there are no mandatory minimums for the jail time or fines. So, in many cases, the driver might not have to serve any time in jail and the fines can be a lot lower than the maximum.

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