Is an Open Container in a Vehicle Illegal in Missouri?

The State of Missouri has somewhat lax laws when it comes to alcohol, which can generally to traced back to Anheiser Busch residing here in the state. One instance where this can be seen is with laws pertaining to open containers inside a vehicle. Although it is illegal to have an open container if you are the driver of the vehicle, there is no such prohibition for the passengers of the vehicle. There is no Missouri state law against the passengers of a vehicle drinking. It seems as though every year a bill is introduced in the state legislature to change this law, but those bills have failed every time.

It is important to point out that there are municipalities throughout Missouri that have made this a municipal ordinance violation regardless of whether the driver or a passenger has the open container. In these municipalities anyone with an open container inside a vehicle can be cited for the offense. The case would then be referred to the local municipal court for prosecution.

Even the Missouri State statute that outlaws the driver from having an open container defines the violation as only an infraction. The statute also specifically states that no violations of the statute are to be reflected on any records with the Department of Revenue. The Missouri Department of Revenue maintains driving records for the State of Missouri, so this means that no violation of the Missouri Open Container law for a driver will appear on that person’s driving record. The bottom line is that, outside of a few municipalities, it is not illegal to have an open container in a vehicle unless you are the driver, and even if you are the driver, the penalty is only an infraction that will not appear on your driving record.

– Open containers are often used as evidence against suspects in a DWI case. If you have been arrested for DWI and had an open container in your vehicle, then please read our firm’s DWI page and contact our office for a free consultation regarding the facts of your case and your rights.

Source: Section 577.017 Revised Statutes of Missouri