In the State of Nevada, alcohol consumption and possession of open containers in motor vehicles is, generally speaking, illegal.
The Nevada open container law applies to both drivers and passengers, though there are some exceptions that allow passengers to have open containers in certain vehicle types.
Courtesy of your main criminal defense lawyer here in Las Vegas, here is an overview of Nevada’s open container law, along with the exceptions as well as the consequences of violation.
Overview of Nevada Open Container Law
It is unlawful for motorists to drink an alcoholic beverage either while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle.
According to Nevada’s open container law, it is also prohibited for drivers and passengers to possess open containers of alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of a vehicle while it is on a highway.
By Nevada law, an alcoholic beverage is defined as:
- Fermented beverages containing 0.5% or more alcohol by volume.
- Any beverages produced by fermenting the natural content of agricultural products that contain sugar and have 0.5% or more alcohol by volume.
- Distilled spirits of any kind.
Furthermore, an open container is defined as any container that has a broken seal or has been opened.
Vehicle Exceptions to Nevada’s Open Container Law
Generally speaking, there are two exceptions to the open container law that apply to 1) passengers in certain vehicles and 2) areas within a vehicle.
Passengers in Certain Vehicles
Vehicle passengers can legally possess an open container of alcohol while in:
- The passenger area of a vehicle used primarily for the transportation of persons in exchange for compensation, ex. taxis.
- The living area of a “house trailer or house coach.”
However, the driver of such a motor vehicle is still prohibited from possessing or controlling open alcohol containers.
Areas Within a Vehicle
Nevada law does not specifically provide an exception for vehicle areas where open containers can legally be placed. However, Nevada law prohibits possession of open alcohol containers in the passenger area only, which is defined as the vehicle area designed for seating the driver and any passengers. Therefore, by implication, the law permits open containers of alcohol to be placed in areas outside the passenger area, such as the vehicle trunk.
Penalties for Violating Open Container Law
Violating the Nevada open container law is a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of six months in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. In lieu of all or part of the fine or jail time, a judge may sentence the offender to community service work.
Penalty for Work Zones and Pedestrian Safety Zones
Typically, when one is convicted of an open container violation in a construction work zone during a time workers are present, or in an area designated as a pedestrian safety zone, the fine, jail time, or community service work may be doubled. The maximum imposable additional penalty for an open container violation in a work zone is six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and/or 120 hours of community service.
Call a Las Vegas Lawyer Today
To learn more about your rights in a court of law, or to contact a violent crime attorney in Las Vegas, call The Law Offices of Benjamin Nadig today at 702-706-0076 for a free consultation.