North Dakota’s Open Container Laws and Violation Penalties

Learn about the penalties for an open container conviction in North Dakota.

As in most other states, North Dakota makes it generally illegal to have an opened container of alcohol in a vehicle. This article explains North Dakota's open container restrictions, the exceptions to the law, and the penalties for an open container ticket.

North Dakota's Vehicle Alcohol Open Container Restrictions

North Dakota 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.

In other words, the law applies even if you replace the cap, cork, or seal.

North Dakota's Open Container Restrictions Apply to Drivers and Passengers

This restriction applies to everyone in a vehicle that's located on a public highway or parking lot—including the driver and passengers. North Dakota considers the owner—or driver if owner is not present—to be responsible for the vehicle. So, open containers possessed by passengers or unknown to the owner can still result in a citation against the owner or driver.

Alcoholic Beverages Subject to North Carolina's Open Container Restrictions

North Dakota defines alcoholic beverages to include any "liquid suitable for drinking by a human being" of at least .5% alcohol by volume. So, open containers of some non-alcoholic beers and other low-alcohol beverages might be permitted.

Exceptions to North Carolina's Open Container Law

Certain vehicles. North Dakota's open container law isn't applicable to passengers riding in certain types of vehicles, including statutorily authorized limousines, taxis, and buses. Patrons inside the passenger areas of these vehicles are permitted to possess and consume alcohol.

Motorhome or camper. Passengers in the living quarters of a mobile home or camper are also exempt from the open container law. However, the living quarters must be separated from the driving compartment by a solid partition, and passengers cannot consume alcohol while the vehicle is moving.

Areas of the vehicle. North Dakota's open container laws are intended to apply to the passenger areas of the vehicle—meaning, the open container restrictions aren't applicable to items in the trunk of the car or, if the car doesn't have a trunk, some other area not normally occupied by passengers.

Fines for Open Container Tickets in North Dakota

An open container conviction in North Dakota will result in a fine of $50 but no jail time. Open container convictions against drivers will be recorded on that person's driving record.

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