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.
A person commits an open container violation by:
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.”
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. Additionally, the prohibition against keeping an open container in a motor vehicle does not apply to the living quarters of a camper or motor home.
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. And 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.
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.
A person under 21 years of age is subject to the same open container violation penalties as is 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.
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.