Rhode Island’s Open Container Laws, Penalties, and Consequences

Learn about the penalties for an open container conviction in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island law prohibits a driver from possessing an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle if:

  • the vehicle is operated on a public highway, and
  • the seal of the beverage has been broken.

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.

Alcoholic beverage. Rhode Island defines alcoholic “beverage” as any liquid fit for human consumption with at least .5% alcohol. So, some non-alcoholic beers and mixers may be permitted.

Exceptions

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 of 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.

Fines and License Suspensions

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 maximum fines of $500 and a driver’s license suspension of up to one year.

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