In Nevada, consumption of alcohol and possession of open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles is generally prohibited. The open container law applies to both drivers and passengers. However, some exceptions allow passengers to have open containers in certain types of vehicles. This article provides an overview of Nevada’s open container law, exceptions to the law, and the consequences of violating the law.
It’s unlawful for a motorist to drink an alcoholic beverage while driving or being in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle on a highway. Nevada’s open container law also prohibits drivers and passengers from possessing open containers of alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that’s located on a highway.
Alcoholic beverage. An “alcoholic beverage” is defined as:
Open container. An “open container” is a container that has been opened or has a broken seal.
Passenger area. The “passenger area” means any area of a motor vehicle that’s designed for the driver or a passenger to be seated.
Passengers in certain vehicles. Passengers can lawfully possess an open container of alcohol in the:
However, the driver of such a vehicle is still prohibited from being in possession or control of open containers of alcohol.
Areas within a vehicle. Nevada’s open container law doesn’t specifically provide an exception for areas of vehicles where open containers of alcohol can lawfully be placed. However, the law prohibits possession of open containers only in the “passenger area,” which is the area of the vehicle designed for seating the driver and passengers. Therefore, the law impliedly allows for open containers of alcohol to be legally placed in areas outside of the passenger area, such as the trunk.
Violation of Nevada’s open container law is a misdemeanor. The maximum penalties are six months in a county jail and/or a maximum $1,000 fine. In lieu of all or part of the jail time and/or fine, a judge can sentence an offender to perform community service work.
Work zones. Generally, when a person is convicted of an open container violation in a construction work zone, at a time when workers are present, the jail time, fine, and/or community service work can be doubled. The maximum additional penalty that can be imposed for an open container violation in a work zone is a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, and/or 120 hours of community service work.
Pedestrian safety zones. Generally, a person who’s convicted of an open container violation in an area designated as a pedestrian safety zone is subject to double the amount of jail time, fine, and/or community service work that are imposed for the original offense and the sentence runs consecutively. However, the additional penalty imposed for an open container violation in a pedestrian safety zone cannot exceed a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, and/or 120 hours of community service work.