Massachusetts’s Open Container Law

The open container law and the penalties for possessing alcoholic beverages in open containers in motor vehicles.

By , Attorney
Facing a DUI? We've helped 115 clients find attorneys today.

There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please add a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please add a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Description is required
By clicking "Find a Lawyer", you agree to the Martindale-Nolo Texting Terms. Martindale-Nolo and up to 5 participating attorneys may contact you on the number you provided for marketing purposes, discuss available services, etc. Messages may be sent using pre-recorded messages, auto-dialer or other automated technology. You are not required to provide consent as a condition of service. Attorneys have the option, but are not required, to send text messages to you. You will receive up to 2 messages per week from Martindale-Nolo. Frequency from attorney may vary. Message and data rates may apply. Your number will be held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

You should not send any sensitive or confidential information through this site. Any information sent through this site does not create an attorney-client relationship and may not be treated as privileged or confidential. The lawyer or law firm you are contacting is not required to, and may choose not to, accept you as a client. The Internet is not necessarily secure and emails sent through this site could be intercepted or read by third parties.

In Massachusetts, possession of open containers of alcohol is generally prohibited by drivers and passengers. However, the law allows for passengers to possess open containers in some circumstances. This article provides an overview of Massachusetts's open container law, exceptions to the general prohibitions, and the penalties for a violation of the law.

Open Container Law

It's unlawful for a person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that's located:

  • on any way or place that the public has a right to access, or
  • on any way or place that members of the public have a right to access as invitees or licensees.

Open container. An "open container" is defined as any bottle, can, or receptacle that has been opened, has a broken seal, or has had the contents partially removed or consumed.

Passenger area. The "passenger area" is the portion of the vehicle designed for the driver and passengers to sit while the motor vehicle is operating. It also includes any area that's readily accessible to the driver or passengers while in a seated position. An unlocked glove compartment is considered to be part of the passenger area. 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.

Exceptions

Passengers in certain types of vehicles. A passenger can lawfully possess an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle that's designed and used for transporting persons for compensation and in the living area of a house coach or house trailer. However, it's unlawful for the driver of such a vehicle to possess an open container of alcohol.

Partially consumed bottle of wine. An establishment licensed to sell wine can allow customers to take a partially consumed bottle of wine home if:

  • the customer purchased a bottle of wine with a meal
  • the wine was not totally consumed by the customer during the meal, and
  • the bottle is resealed.

A resealed bottle of wine is not considered to be an open container as long as it's not transported in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. Therefore, to lawfully transport a resealed partially consumed bottle of wine in a motor vehicle, it must be placed in a locked glove compartment, the trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat if the vehicle doesn't have a trunk.

Penalties

A person who violates the open container law in Massachusetts commits an infraction, punishable by a fine of $100 to $500.

Underage Offenders

In addition to the fine specified above, a person who is under the age of 18 at the time of committing an open container violation will face a driver's license or permit suspension. For a first offense, the underage offender's license or permit is suspended for 180 days. For a second or subsequent conviction, the suspension is for one year.

FACING A DUI?
Talk to a DUI Defense attorney
We've helped 115 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please add a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please add a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Description is required
By clicking "Find a Lawyer", you agree to the Martindale-Nolo Texting Terms. Martindale-Nolo and up to 5 participating attorneys may contact you on the number you provided for marketing purposes, discuss available services, etc. Messages may be sent using pre-recorded messages, auto-dialer or other automated technology. You are not required to provide consent as a condition of service. Attorneys have the option, but are not required, to send text messages to you. You will receive up to 2 messages per week from Martindale-Nolo. Frequency from attorney may vary. Message and data rates may apply. Your number will be held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

You should not send any sensitive or confidential information through this site. Any information sent through this site does not create an attorney-client relationship and may not be treated as privileged or confidential. The lawyer or law firm you are contacting is not required to, and may choose not to, accept you as a client. The Internet is not necessarily secure and emails sent through this site could be intercepted or read by third parties.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you