Drinking alcohol and possessing open containers of alcohol is generally prohibited by drivers and passengers. However, Georgia’s open container law allows for several exceptions to the general prohibition. This article provides an overview of Georgia’s open container law, exceptions to the law, and the penalties for a violation.
It’s unlawful for a person to consume any alcoholic beverage or to possess any alcoholic beverage in an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that’s located on the roadway or shoulder of any public highway.
The open container law applies to drivers and passengers. However, when the driver of a motor vehicle is alone, the driver will be charged with violating the open container law if there are any open containers of alcohol in the passenger area.
Alcoholic beverage. An “alcoholic beverage” is defined as:
Open alcoholic beverage container. An “open alcoholic beverage container” is any bottle, can, or receptacle containing any amount of an alcoholic beverage and that:
Passenger area. The “passenger area” is the part of the vehicle that’s designed for the driver and passengers to sit while the vehicle is in operation. It also includes any area that’s readily accessible to the driver or passengers while in a seated position. However, the passenger area doesn’t include a locked glove compartment, the trunk of a vehicle, or the area behind the last upright seat if the vehicle doesn’t have a trunk.
Passengers in certain types of vehicles. A passenger can lawfully possess an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that’s designed and used for transporting persons for compensation and in the living area of a motor home or house trailer.
Unfinished bottle of wine. A restaurant licensed to sell alcoholic beverages can permit customers who have purchased a meal and consumed part of a bottle of wine to take the partially consumed bottle home. To legally transport one partially consumed bottle of wine in a motor vehicle, the restaurant must:
This exception also requires the person transporting the wine to place it in a locked glove compartment, locked trunk, or in the area behind the last upright seat if the vehicle doesn’t have a trunk.
Malt beverages. Malt beverages that are produced in private residences can be transported in a motor vehicle if:
A person who violates the open container law in Georgia commits an infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $200.