Michigan’s Open Container Law and Violation Penalties

Michigan’s open container law prohibits transporting or possessing an unsealed container of alcohol in a vehicle.

In Michigan, it's unlawful to transport or possess an open container of alcohol in a:

  • moving vehicle in any public space (including a parking lot), or
  • moving or parked vehicle on a highway.

Unlike with an operating while intoxicated (OWI) charge, the open container law applies even if the driver is sober. This article provides an overview of the open container law's prohibitions and exceptions.

Michigan's Alcohol Open Container Restrictions

Michigan's open container law prohibits both drivers and passengers from transporting or possessing an open container of alcoholic liquor in a motor vehicle.

Alcoholic Beverages Covered by Michigan's Open Container Law

The definition of alcoholic liquor is broad and includes any liquid or compound containing any amount of alcohol. Examples include:

  • distilled liquor
  • spirits such as brandy, rum, whiskey, and gin
  • beer and wine, and
  • powders or medicated compounds containing alcohol.

Motor Vehicles Covered by Michigan's Open Container Restrictions

The definition of "motor vehicle" is also broad—covering all self-propelled vehicles and any vehicle on a highway. One Michigan court found that a personal four-wheel scooter (used in lieu of a wheelchair) was a vehicle for purposes of the open container law.

The only vehicles expressly excluded from the definition are:

  • electric patrol vehicles
  • electric personal assistive mobility devices (defined as a two-wheel, self-balancing device—commonly known as a "Segway")
  • electric carriages (retrofitted horse carriages used as taxis), and
  • commercial quadricycles (sometimes called "pedal pubs").

Exceptions to Michigan's Open Container Law

Inaccessible areas. An unsealed container of alcohol can be transported in the trunk of a vehicle or, if there is no trunk:

  • behind the last upright seat
  • in a locked glove compartment, or
  • in an area not occupied by the driver or passengers.

Chartered vehicles. The open container law does not apply to passengers in state-authorized, chartered vehicles, such as taxis or limousines.

Michigan's Open Container Penalties and Fines

An open container violation in Michigan can lead to fines, jail time, and license-related consequences.

Fines, Jail, and Substance Abuse Screening for Michigan Open Container Tickets

In many states, an open container violation is just like a normal traffic ticket. But in Michigan, an open container violation is a misdemeanor criminal offense for both drivers and passengers.

A misdemeanor carries up to 90 days in jail and a maximum $100 fine. In addition, the court can order the offender to perform community service and pay for substance abuse screening and assessment.

How an Open Container Ticket Affects Your Driving Record in Michigan

Two points are added to an offender's driving record for an open container violation. Accumulating 12 or more points in a two-year period can result in loss of driving privileges.

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 enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

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