Vermont’s Open Container Laws, Penalties, and Consequences

Learn about the penalties for an open container—of alcohol or marijuana—conviction in Vermont.

Vermont law prohibits a driver or passenger from possessing or consuming an open container of alcohol or marijuana in a vehicle if:

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

Open container. In Vermont, an open container includes any unsealed container of alcohol. It also includes any open container of marijuana. (Additionally, exposure to second-hand smoke due to a passenger’s consumption of marijuana, is considered consumption by the driver, and therefore prohibited.)

Alcoholic Beverage. Vermont defines alcoholic “beverage” to include any alcohol, malt beverage, spirit, wine, or any beverage composed of such.

Marijuana. Vermont defines “marijuana” to include all parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, including seeds, resin or any compound or derivative from the plant. It does not include mature stalks or hemp products.

Exceptions

Areas of the vehicle. Vermont’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 a locked glove box, in the trunk of the car, or behind the back seat (if the car doesn’t have a trunk) as long as they are not readily accessible to the driver or passengers.

Certain vehicles. Vermont’s open alcohol container law isn’t applicable to passengers of certain types of vehicles. This exception includes statutorily authorized for-hire vehicles and the living quarters of a motor home or coach. As long as the unsealed beverage is not in the possession of the driver, passengers over 21 years old are permitted to possess and consume alcohol inside of these vehicles. This exemption does not apply to marijuana consumption, which is outright prohibited in vehicles.

Restaurant wine. Vermont 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 outside of the passenger area.

Fines

An open container violation is a civil violation in Vermont. A conviction of this civil violation will result in the following maximum fines:

  • Consumption of marijuana. Marijuana consumption carries a maximum fine of $500 for drivers and $200 for passengers. Also, consumption of marijuana in a vehicle with minors present may result in a separate misdemeanor.
  • Consumption of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol in a vehicle carries a maximum fine of $500 for drivers and $25 for passengers.
  • Possession of open alcohol container. The maximum fine for alcohol open container violations is $25 for drivers and passengers.
  • Possession of open marijuana container. The maximum fine for marijuana open container violations is $200 for drivers and passengers.
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