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Open Container in Vehicle

Open containers are prevalent during tailgating season at Ohio State University and other surrounding colleges. Open containers of alcohol may be permitted in these areas, but once you leave such designated areas, the containers become illegal.

An open container is usually found during an OVI stop. This will result in an additional charge and penalties on top of those for an OVI. To make matters worse, penalties will be elevated if police find the alcohol was consumed in the vehicle. 

Columbus, OH Open Container Defense Lawyer

Joslyn Law Firm has been nationally recognized for their success in OVI defense. We will use this experience to your advantage and formulate a defense plan in your best interest. Call (614) 300 - 3025 to schedule a confidential consultation.

Joslyn Law Firm defends those accused of OVI and related offenses in areas across central Ohio such as Franklin County, Delaware County, Union County and Madison County.


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Ohio’s Open Container Laws

It’s illegal in Ohio for any driver or passenger to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. Police will not care if the vehicle is moving or stationary. They will arrest you and any passengers if an open container is found in your vehicle.

It’s best to keep in mind open container is typically charged alongside charges for OVI. The crime almost acts as an aggravated factor for OVI charges. Open container is not a harshly punished crime. In fact, if you are only charged with open container, you will not have to spend any time in jail.

Open container is a minor misdemeanor punishable by a fine up of up to $150. The charge and penalties for open container have the potential to be elevated. Charges will be elevated to a fourth-degree misdemeanor if police discover alcohol was consumed in a vehicle.

A fourth-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.


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When are Open Containers in a Vehicle Legal in Ohio?

Not all vehicles are viewed equally in the eyes of the law. Ohio allows for alcoholic beverages to be open in certain vehicles. Open containers are legal in limos, but only under certain conditions. These conditions include:

  • You are a passenger in the limousine
  • You are not in the front area of the limo
  • The limo is located on property used for vehicular travel or parking

Open bottles of wine can also be legally transported in a vehicle, but two conditions have to be met. These conditions include:

  • The permit holder authorized to sell alcohol securely resealed the open bottle, and it’s apparent the bottle had been opened or tampered with.
  • The resealed bottle is stored in the trunk of the vehicle or, if the vehicle does not have a trunk, it’s stored behind the last upright seat in an area not occupied by a passenger and not easily accessible by the driver.

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House Bill 47

The Ohio legislature has taken steps to eliminate open container restrictions in certain designated areas. In 2015, Governor John Kasich enacted a bill allowing more than 60 Ohio cities with a population over 35,000 to establish “outdoor refreshment areas,” which are exempt from the state’s open container laws.

This exemption only applies to pedestrians and those in stationary vehicles within designated areas. Most of the designated areas are located next to large event centers, sports stadiums and bar and restaurant districts. These open container areas are no bigger than half a square mile and the alcohol transported within the zone must have been purchased in the designated area.

Transporting open containers from these areas into an undesignated area will result in criminal charges.


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Additional Resources for Open Container in a Vehicle

House Bill 47 – Follow the link provided to learn more about the bill allowing outdoor refreshment areas. You can read about the requirements for the designated area and open containers on quadricycles.

Open Container | Ohio Revised Code – Visit the Ohio Laws and Rules website to read the statute over open containers. You can read the legal definition of the crime and learn about open containers at music festivals, conventions and outdoor performance centers.


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Columbus, OH Open Container Defense Attorney

If you are facing charges for both OVI and open container, you have come to the right place. We’d love to speak with you more about your case. Call (614) 300 - 3025 to schedule a confidential consultation.

Joslyn Law Firm defends those accused of OVI and related crimes in areas including Pickaway County, Fairfield County, Licking County and many others.


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Joslyn Law Firm