In New Mexico, it's illegal to drink alcohol or possess open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle, subject to some exceptions. This article provides an overview of New Mexico's open container law, exceptions to the law, and the penalties for possessing open containers in motor vehicles.
In New Mexico, it's unlawful for a person to knowingly:
The registered owner of a vehicle is also prohibited from keeping an open container of alcohol or allowing an open container to be kept in a motor vehicle when it's on a public highway.
An "open container" is defined as a bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that's open, has a broken seal, or has had some of the contents partially removed.
New Mexico's open container law has a number of exceptions related to the type of vehicle, the area of the vehicle, and the type of alcohol.
The registered owner of a motor vehicle can lawfully keep open containers of alcohol and allow others to keep open containers in the trunk of the vehicle. If the vehicle doesn't have a trunk, the open container must be kept in an area of the vehicle that's not typically occupied by the driver or passengers. However, an open container can't be kept in a utility or glove compartment because those areas are considered to be within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.
The registered owner of a motor vehicle can lawfully keep open containers of alcohol and allow others to keep open containers in:
The open container law doesn't apply to passengers in buses, taxicabs, and limousines for hire that are licensed to transport passengers.
An establishment licensed to sell wine can allow customers who have purchased a full-course meal and consumed part of a bottle of wine to take the partially consumed bottle home. But to do so, the establishment must:
To legally possess and transport one partially consumed bottle of wine in a motor vehicle, the customer must keep it in the trunk of the vehicle. And if the vehicle doesn't have a trunk, the partially consumed bottle of wine must be kept in an area of the vehicle that's not usually occupied by the driver or passengers.
A person who violates New Mexico's open container law commits a moving violation, punishable by a $25 fine and points added to an offender's driving record.
A person who's convicted of violating the open container law for a second or subsequent time commits a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is imprisonment for 90 days and/or a $300 fine. In addition to jail and a fine, a second conviction results in a revocation of the offender's license for three months. Upon a third or subsequent conviction, the offender's license will be revoked for one year.