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Rhode Island Open Container Law

The state and federal governments of the United States have made many efforts to reduce the rate of drunk driving accidents across our country. These efforts have ranged from lowering the maximum allowed blood alcohol content for drivers, to enforcing stricter penalties for offenses, to establishing sobriety checkpoints in certain places. In 1998, the federal government took one more step by passing Section 154 of the TEA-21 Restoration Act, more commonly known as the Open Container Law.

This law reduces federal highway funding to states that do not comply by enforcing their own open container laws. Rhode Island is one of 36 states that have complied so far, making it important for all drivers in our state to be familiar with this law. For more information, call Rhode Island open container defense attorney Matthew Marin at 401-287-4384.

Federal Compliance Standards

In order to be considered compliant with the federal Open Container Law, states must enforce the following policies:

  • Possession of an open alcohol container in the passenger area of almost any car is prohibited. The alcohol in question may be beer, wine, liquor, or any other drink with more than .005% alcohol by volume.
  • The prohibition expands to any area of the car that is readily accessible to the driver or any passengers, including unlocked glove compartments.
  • The law is primarily enforced, meaning police do not need reasonable belief that another offense has been committed before arresting someone for violating this law.
  • The law applies to almost any vehicle on a public highway or the shoulder of one. The only exceptions are the living areas of motor homes, and vehicles intended for the commercial transport of customers (cabs, limousines, etc).

Each state carries its own penalties for violation of this law. A Rhode Island open container law attorney can provide more detailed information about our state’s version of this policy.

Rhode Island Open Container Law Penalties

In our state, a first time violation of the open container law is penalized by a fine of up to $200 and/or a six month driver’s license suspension. Subsequent offenses can be punished by a fine of up to $500 and/or a year-long driver’s license suspension.

Contact Us

Rhode Island DWI defense lawyer Matthew Marin can help protect your rights. Contact him today at 401-287-4384.