Nebraska’s Open Container Laws, Penalties, and Consequences

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

Nebraska 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.

This restriction applies to all persons within the car—including the driver and passengers—and to any vehicle located on public highways or parking lots.

Alcoholic Beverage. Nebraska defines “alcoholic beverage” to include any beer, malt beverage, wine, distilled spirits, mixed drinks and effectively any readily consumable beverage of at least .5% alcohol. So, some non-alcoholic beers and mixers may be permitted.

Exceptions

Certain vehicles. Nebraska’s open container law isn’t applicable to passengers riding in certain types of vehicles, including statutorily authorized limousines and buses that have partitions between the driver and passengers. Passengers inside the partitioned areas of these vehicles are permitted to possess and consume alcohol.

Areas of the vehicle. Nebraska’s open container laws are intended to apply to the passenger areas of the vehicle. The open container restrictions aren’t applicable to items in 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

An open container violation is an infraction in Nebraska. A conviction will result in a fine of up to $100 but no jail time. However, subsequent convictions can result in fines of up to $500. A person may be arrested for an open container violation but generally must be released (as opposed to being taken to jail) unless other circumstances exist that justify further detention.

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