As in most other states, Rhode Island has laws that make it illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. This article covers Rhode Island's open container restrictions and the penalties you'll face for a violation.
Rhode Island's open container restrictions are slightly different than some other states. Here are the basics of how Rhode Island defines the offense.
Rhode Island defines an open container as any alcoholic "beverage" as any liquid fit for human consumption with at least .5% alcohol that has a broken seal. However, there's an exception for opened restaurant wine, which is explained below.
Unlike the laws of most other states, Rhode Island's open container law doesn't appear to include parked vehicles. However, it's better to be on the safe side and just avoid having open containers in your vehicle altogether.
Rhode Island's open container restrictions also apply only to vehicles operated on a public highway.
Unlike the open container rules of most states—which apply to drivers and passengers—Rhode Island's open container restrictions apply only to the driver of the vehicle.
Certain vehicles. Rhode Island's open container law isn't applicable to drivers of certain types of vehicles. This includes statutorily authorized limousines and buses as long as the unsealed beverage is not in the possession of the driver. So, passengers over 21 years old are permitted to possess and consume alcohol inside these vehicles.
Areas of the vehicle. Rhode Island's open container laws are intended to apply to the passenger areas of the vehicle. The open container restrictions aren't applicable to items in the trunk of the car.
Restaurant wine. Rhode Island does authorize the transportation of a partially-removed alcoholic beverage after dining at a restaurant. However, the bottle must be resealed by the restaurant and stored in the trunk or behind the last upright seat.
An open container violation is a traffic infraction in Rhode Island. A conviction will result in a maximum fine of $200 and a driver's license suspension of up to six months. However, subsequent convictions can result in a maximum fine of $500 and a driver's license suspension of up to one year.