Subject to a few exceptions, drivers and passengers are generally prohibited from consuming and possessing open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles in Maryland. This article provides an overview of Maryland’s open container law, exceptions to the law, and the penalties for open container violations.
It’s unlawful for an occupant of a motor vehicle on a highway to consume an alcoholic beverage or possess an open container that contains any amount of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area. Maryland’s open container law applies to a motor vehicle located on a highway, regardless of whether it’s being driven or is stopped.
Unlike some states that make the driver responsible for all open containers in the vehicle, in Maryland, a driver won’t be prosecuted for a passenger’s possession of an open container.
Alcoholic beverage. “Alcoholic beverage” includes “spirituous, vinous, malt, or fermented liquor” fit for “beverage purposes” and containing at least .5% of alcohol by volume.
Open container. An “open container” means any can, bottle, or other receptacle that:
Passenger area. The “passenger area” of a vehicle includes the area designed for the driver and passengers to sit while the vehicle is in operation. It also includes any area that is “readily accessible” to the driver or passengers while seated in the vehicle. However, the passenger area doesn’t include:
Motor vehicle. A “motor vehicle” is a vehicle that is self-propelled or propelled by electric power and is not operated on rails. Mopeds and motor scooters are included in this definition.
Several exceptions apply to Maryland’s open container law:
A person who violates Maryland’s open container law commits a civil offense, punishable by a fine. The maximum fine is $25, plus $5 in court costs.
An open container violation is not a moving violation or a traffic violation. This means that a conviction won’t result in points being added to an offender’s driving record.