Oregon’s Open Container Law

The open container law in Oregon and the penalties for consuming and possessing open containers of alcohol in a vehicle.

By , Attorney

Subject to some exceptions, Oregon's open container law prohibits consuming and possessing open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. This article provides an overview of Oregon's open container law and the penalties for a violation.

Oregon's Open Container Law

A person commits an open container violation by:

  • drinking any alcohol in a motor vehicle when the vehicle is on a highway
  • possessing on one's person any open container in a motor vehicle when the vehicle is on a highway, or
  • keeping in the motor vehicle any open container when the vehicle is on a highway.

An open container is defined as any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing alcoholic liquor that has been "opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed."

The prohibition against keeping an open container in a motor vehicle generally applies only to the registered owner of the vehicle; it's only if the registered owner isn't present that the prohibition applies to the driver of the vehicle.

Exceptions to Oregon's Open Container Law

Trunk and areas not accessible to vehicle occupants. An open container can be kept in the trunk of the vehicle, or if the vehicle doesn't have a trunk, in some other area not normally occupied by the driver or passengers. However, a person violates the open container law if an open container is kept in a glove or utility compartment.

Living quarters of RVs. The prohibition against keeping an open container in a motor vehicle does not apply to the living quarters of a camper or motor home.

Common carriers (buses, taxis, and the like). Generally, the open container law applies to both drivers and passengers. However, the law doesn't apply to passengers in a motor vehicle operated by a common carrier.

How to Legally Transport Open Containers in Oregon

If you need to transport an open container of alcohol in Oregon, the best way to do that is to put the container in the trunk of the vehicle.

Penalties for Open Container Tickets in Oregon

Violation of the open container law is a Class B traffic violation. The presumptive fine is $265. The maximum fine is $1,000 and the minimum fine is $135.

Open container violations don't carry any jail time.

Underage Offenders and Minor in Possession Charges

A person under 21 years of age is subject to the same open container violation penalties as an adult offender.

However, in addition, a minor who possesses alcoholic beverages while operating a motor vehicle commits the offense of minor in possession, which is a Class A traffic violation. The presumptive fine is $440. The maximum fine is $2,000 and the minimum fine is $225. The court may also order an underage offender to complete an assessment and alcohol/drug treatment program.

Does Oregon's Open Container Law Apply to Marijuana?

Oregon's law legalizing recreational marijuana doesn't address open containers of marijuana in motor vehicles. And Oregon's open container law currently applies only to alcohol.

But law enforcement agencies have indicated they intend to treat marijuana and alcohol similarly for purposes of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) and open container offenses. So Oregon's open container law could evolve as gaps are identified in the recently enacted marijuana law.

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