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Does Idaho Have an Open Container Law?


An open container law addresses alcoholic beverages. According to the Huffington Post, America has an uneasy and confusing relationship with alcohol. Despite America’s evident love for baseball, which always goes hand in hand with wine tasting and beers served at baseball games. Most people find it ironic that while it is perfectly acceptable to drink publicly at baseball games, otherwise it’s prohibited.

There is no federal or universal open container law in the US. Instead, there is a mix of controversial, obscure, and confusing container laws in states and cities in America. In the states, open container laws prohibit or regulate open containers of alcohol in public places.

Public places refer to open areas in this context, such as parks, sidewalks, and vehicles. Open places that are privately owned, such as bars and restaurants, are not included. The purpose of open container laws is to restrict public consumption and intoxication, especially DUI. Find out more about Idaho open container laws from our Boise DUI lawyers.

What Is Open Container Law?

Open container law prohibits the possession or drinking of alcohol from an open container in public. About 39 states in America have available container laws, Idaho inclusive. On June 9, 1998, the United States enacted the federal law,  Transportation Equity Act (TEA-21). The TEA-21 guides the provisions of the open container law.

Therefore, an open container law is to do the following:

  • Prohibit both the consumption of any alcoholic beverage and possession of any alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle.
  • Apply to all alcoholic beverage containers and beverages, including wine, spirits, beer, or any alcoholic beverage that contains half percent or more of alcohol by volume.
  • The law applies to all vehicles in the right of way or on all public highways.
  • Apply to all drivers and occupants of vehicles except passengers of vehicles primarily designed and used for public transportation like taxis, buses, etc., or motor homes.
  • Require primary enforcement of the law.

Open Container Law in Idaho

In Idaho, it is unlawful to drink or have an unsealed container of beer, wine, or any alcoholic liquor in a vehicle that’s in the right of way or on a public road. Unlike driving under the influence, open container law applies to drivers even when sober.

Alcoholic liquor refers to:

  • Spirits like rum, whiskey, gin;
  • Distilled liquor; and
  • Spirits with 4% or more alcohol by volume.

The open container law is for drivers and passengers alike. If you must transport unsealed alcoholic beverage containers, the containers have to be behind the last upright seat of the vehicle if it has no trunk or in the trunk.

What Happens When You Violate the Open Container Law in Idaho?

There are so many arguments as to what an open container is and penalties for violating the open container law. First, an open container is a can, bottle, or any other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has the seal broken, loose, or the contents partially removed. Here are few examples:

  • A bottle with the lid twisted off. The bottle could be full and get seen as an open container. Also, if the cap gets put back on after being removed, it is still seen as an open container.
  • A cup containing any alcohol mixed or not, with or without ice, is an open container.
  • A runner’s container, bottle, cup, or drink holder containing any amount of alcohol.

Technically, any bottle, can, cup, or container empty is not an empty container; generally, they are trash. However, a container that’s empty but has condensation outside or is cool to the touch is an open container.

Open container laws are not the same as DUI laws though you’d need a Boise DUI attorney for both. For instance, if you get caught driving under the influence and there’s an open container in the vehicle, you could get charged for violating two laws.

Consequently, the open container can amplify your DUI charges. Most people consider the open container law a pretense for charging motorists and passengers with driving under the influence.

Get a Boise DUI Lawyer for Your Open Container Law Case!

When you have an open container law case, it is not the best time for DIY because many legalities surround an open container case. Boise DUI attorneys are trained and experienced in finding the best possible argument for you or your loved one.

A DUI lawyer in Boise is your best representation to ensure that you don’t get fined for something you didn’t do. Get in touch with our Boise DUI attorney today to discuss how you can be best represented.