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What is an open container law?

If you recognize that one of your friends is too drunk to ride on a Louisiana road, you may decide to step in as a designated driver. However, if your friend is carrying an open can of beer with him as he enters the vehicle, you might have a problem. While you are legally able to drive since you are not drunk, the mere fact that your friend possesses an open can of beer in the vehicle could still invite trouble from the law.

Louisiana has what is known as an “open carry” law. Under Louisiana Statute 32:300, a Louisiana passenger is not permitted to consume an alcoholic beverage or to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a vehicle driving on the road. This law permits a police officer to give you a citation if an open alcohol container is discovered in your vehicle.

The statute applies to a passenger and the person who is driving the vehicle. So even if you have not consumed any alcohol and are fully capable of driving your automobile without any problems, a police officer may hold you responsible for the alcoholic drink in your vehicle even if the drink is not yours.

The law does contain some exceptions. Open alcoholic beverage containers can be carried in the trunk of an automobile, or if there is no trunk, they can be housed in a glove compartment or anyplace that a passenger or driver would not normally occupy. Drivers of certain occupations can allow their passengers to possess open alcoholic drinks, like people riding in cabs or individuals riding in courtesy vehicles.

Because the issue of open container laws in Louisiana can be complicated, do not take this article as offering any legal advice. It is written for the purposes of educating readers on laws governing alcohol possession in vehicles and drunk driving.

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McGlynn, Glisson & Mouton
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