Under New Hampshire's open container law, you could receive a fine of up to $150 and/or a license suspension of up to one year if you are caught with an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a vehicle.
Open container laws vary from state to state. Before you hit the road, it’s important to know what's prohibited in the state where you live or intend to drive in order to keep yourself out of legal trouble.
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What is the open container law in New Hampshire?
Chapter 265-Aof the New Hampshire code, neither a driver nor passenger may transport, carry, possess, or consume any alcoholic beverage within the passenger area of any vehicle—unless it's in its original container and the seal is unbroken—on any “way” in the state.
A way is defined in the code as the boundary lines of any:
- Public highway, street, avenue, road, alley, park, or parkway
- Private area laid out under the authority of the statute
- Any area provided and maintained by a public institution to which state funds are allocated for public use
- Any area provided and maintained by a public institution that has been used for public travel for 20 years or more
What counts as an open container?
An open container in New Hampshire is any container that has been opened, taken out of its original container, consumed, and/or has a broken seal.
So before you take home that opened, half-bottle of wine, be sure to stow it in the trunk, out of the passenger area.
Exceptions to New Hampshire’s open container law
New Hampshire's open container law does not apply to people transporting, carrying, possessing, or consuming alcoholic beverages if they are in a hired taxi, limousine, or chartered bus.
However, the driver is still prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages in or near the driving area.
Penalties for violating New Hampshire’s open container law
Violating New Hampshire’s open container law can earn you a $150 fine and/or license suspension for up to one year.
If you are driving and it is suspected that you are under the influence, if you refuse a breathalyzer test, your license will be automatically suspended for 180 days. This duration may be extended up to two years with any prior DUI convictions or testing refusals.
The first time you are convicted of breaking
New Hampshire's DUI laws, you will face $500 to $1,200 in fines and nine months to two years of license suspension. Repeat offenses can result in up to one year in jail, $750 to $2,000 in fines, and lifetime license revocation.
In place of the jail sentence, the judge can put the offender on probation for up to two years, which will include participation in an alcohol management program with the following minimum terms:
- Second DUI: 5 days
- Prior DUI within the last two years: 14 days
- Third DUI: 30 days
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Who gets the ticket for an open container in New Hampshire?
Passengers and drivers alike who violate New Hampshire’s open container law can get ticketed.
What happens if you deny a breathalyzer in New Hampshire?
If you deny a breathalyzer test in New Hampshire, you’ll face a 180-day license suspension.