Open Container Law Louisiana

open container laws louisiana

Because of our rich culture of Mardi Gras parades and football games, most Louisiana parishes have pretty lenient rules when it comes to drinking, possessing, and buying alcohol. In fact, our entire state has pretty unique laws regarding alcohol sales and public possession of alcohol, so much so that we do not meet TEA-21 compliance like many other states. However, if you’re not careful, you can still get in trouble with the law. Before you go out and party this weekend, it’s a good idea to brush up on Louisiana open container laws, which mandate when you can and can’t have open containers of alcoholic beverages in your car.

If you’re facing a DUI charge or an open container violation, it’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney. Baton Rouge DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown have extensive knowledge of Louisiana alcohol laws. We can help you obtain the best case outcome possible. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation at our law firm today.

What is Louisiana’s Open Container Law?

The Louisiana open container law (RS 32:300) states that it’s illegal to have open alcoholic beverage containers in the car whilst driving, and it’s illegal for car passengers to drink alcohol out of open containers in the car. An open container of alcohol means the container is open, has a broken seal, and/or has had its contents partially removed.

Because these alcohol laws in Louisiana have many exceptions, Louisiana doesn’t meet TEA-21 compliance like most other states with similar alcohol laws.

What is the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century?

In 1998, the federal government created the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) which promotes highway safety. In order for a state to meet TEA-21 compliance, its open container laws must:

  • Outlaw both the possession of an open alcoholic beverage and the consumption of an alcoholic beverage in a car;
  • Extend to the passenger side of the car, including the glove box and any other readily accessible areas of the car;
  • Include all alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, distilled spirits, etc.) and all open containers that have at least one-half of 1% or more of alcohol by volume;
  • Extend to all car occupants except for passengers of vehicles that transport people for compensation including limousines, taxis, and buses;
  • Include all vehicles on public highways and the shoulders of public highways;
  • Require primary law enforcement instead of probable cause that another crime had been committed before granting the enforcement of the open container law.

The Louisiana open container law breaks many of these requirements, therefore it is one of a handful of states that isn’t TEA-21 compliant.

Exceptions to Louisiana’s Open Container Laws

As the main “home” of Mardi Gras season, Louisiana has many exceptions to its open container law. Before you go out and party, it’s a good idea to brush up on what is and isn’t okay according to Louisiana alcohol laws.

open container law louisiana

New Orleans

First thing’s first: New Orleans gets its own exception in the Louisiana open container law. In fact, the law states that in certain New Orleans districts, such as the French Quarter, people are allowed to consume an alcoholic beverage and possess open plastic containers of alcoholic beverages in the car.

Drive-Thru Daiquiri Shops

Louisiana is also home to countless drive-thru frozen daiquiri shops, especially the further south you get. Believe it or not, in our state it’s completely legal to possess the infamous frozen alcoholic beverage in the car as long as it’s “sealed.” This means:

  • The lid is on the cup.
  • There is no straw protruding from the lid or the open mouth of the cup.
  • The contents of the daiquiri haven’t been partially or completely emptied.

Certain Vehicles and Certain Areas of the Vehicle

Certain types of vehicles, such as a self-contained motor home (RV), a bus, a limousine, and a parade float are excluded from Louisiana open container laws. So basically, you can possess and drink alcoholic beverages in these cars, although it may not be the smartest or safest idea.

Certain areas of vehicles are also excluded from Louisiana open container laws, including a car trunk, a back seat, a locked glove box, or any other area that’s not readily accessible to drivers or passengers can technically contain alcohol.

Other Exceptions

Other exceptions to the Louisiana open container law include:

  • Those who are required to carry unsealed container(s) of alcohol can do so as long as it’s a condition of their job. Passengers of this vehicle cannot drink alcohol, though.
  • Passengers who pay money for public transportation services (such as city buses, taxis, etc.) can carry alcohol.
  • Passengers riding in courtesy vehicles can carry alcohol as long as they’re being actively used as courtesy vehicles.
  • Passengers riding in a privately owned limousine can carry alcohol as long as the driver has a Class D commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Penalties for Having an Open Container of Alcohol in Your Car

The penalties for violating the Louisiana open container law are pretty light, especially compared to DUI penalties. If you’re caught violating this law, you may receive a misdemeanor conviction and a maximum fine of $100.

Meanwhile, if you actually consume alcohol and get drunk behind the wheel, you could face some major penalties such as up to six months of jail time, driver’s license suspension, thousands of dollars in fines, and a mandated driver improvement educational course or inpatient substance abuse program, especially if you have been caught drunk driving before.

louisiana alcohol laws

Call Baton Rouge DUI Lawyers at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown Today

If you’re facing a DUI charge and/or an open container charge in the state of Louisiana, it’s a good idea to arm yourself with an experienced Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney. Baton Rouge DWI lawyers at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown have been protecting DWI offenders since 1984. We have extensive knowledge of the alcohol laws in Louisiana, so you can trust that we’ll fight for a lower charge, jail sentence, or fine on your behalf. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation at our law firm today.


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