Indiana Open Container Law

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Open container laws prevent people, particularly those operating motor vehicles, from consuming alcohol in certain places. These laws dictate if one can drink outside of their home or a restaurant or perhaps while walking down the street. Open container laws are enacted in order to reduce the risk of public intoxication or operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Be advised open container laws vary even inside a state.

Can a passenger of a vehicle have an open container?

No. According to Indiana Code § 9-30-15-3, “a person in a motor vehicle who, while the motor vehicle is in operation or while the motor vehicle is located on the right-of-way of a public highway, possesses a container: (1) that has been opened; (2) that has a broken seal; or (3) from which some of the contents have been removed in the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle commits a class C infraction. IC § 9-30-15-3 (Burns, Lexis Advance through P.L.210-2018, with gaps of P.L.177-2018, P.L.189-2018, and P.L.208-2018, from the Second Regular Session of the 120th General Assembly). Therefore, even if you are the passenger of a car, you are still not permitted to drink alcohol while the car’s motor is running.

Subject to various provisions, under Indiana Code 34-28-5-4, “…a judgment of up to five hundred dollars ($500) may be entered for a violation constituting a Class C infraction.” IC § 34-28-5-4 (Burns, Lexis Advance through P.L.210-2018, with gaps of P.L.177-2018, P.L.189-2018, and P.L.208-2018, from the Second Regular Session of the 120th General Assembly).

Can I drink on Indiana streets?

Surprisingly, the answer is a complicated “yes.” In Indiana, the law states that in public spaces, including sidewalks, you are allowed to have an alcoholic beverage so long as it is in its original container. While there is no statewide ban, be advised that only certain areas of the state allow for drinking in public, so you should check local laws. Additionally, please note that the term “public” does not generally include places such as restaurants or bars.

If you are caught violating an open container law, you will need a criminal defense attorney. Call Hayes Law Office at 317-759-1515 and together we can navigate your legal issues.