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Missouri Open Container Laws

Missouri Open Container Laws

Whether or not Missouri has an open container law is often a subject of debate. The correct answer is that the state of Missouri does have an open container law. However, that state law only applies to the driver of a vehicle. Missouri Revised Statute 577.017 provides law enforcement the ability to cite a driver with an infraction for consuming an alcoholic beverage while operating his or her vehicle. In certain circumstances this may be difficult for an officer to ascertain. For instance, if an individual were to finish his or her first and only beer before getting behind the wheel and then placed the beverage in the cup holder, they have not violated a literal reading of the law. Of course, an officer may still cite that individual if they have probable cause not to believe those facts.

The state does not have a law making it illegal for passengers to consume alcohol while in a moving vehicle. However, local and municipal laws may be enacted that supersede the state law described above. The City of Maryville, located in Northwest Missouri, has an ordinance that makes it illegal to transport or possess an open container in a motor vehicle being operated within city limits. Two other important parts of this local ordinance are that an open container of non-intoxicating beer can lead to violation and if an open container is not in sole possession of the passenger it is considered in possession of the driver.

A couple of localities closer to the St. Louis area that have similar laws to that of Maryville are St. Charles and Foristell. The state has tried on multiple occasions to enact a statewide ban on open containers for drivers and passengers but such efforts have been unsuccessful.

If you have been given a citation for having an open container or wish to speak with a Missouri criminal defense attorney call Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C. at 314-645-4400 for a free consultation.