Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car in Florida?

In Florida, neither passenger nor drivers can consume alcohol, which could lead to a $90 fine for the driver.
Written by Kornelia Drianovski
Edited by R.E. Fulton
open container laws prohibit open alcoholic beverages that are capable of being consumed during the operation of a vehicle. Having an open container of alcohol in the car could land both the driver and passenger a charge—but of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Can passengers drink alcohol in a car in Florida?

No. According to
Section 316.1936
of the Florida Statutes, open alcoholic beverages of any kind that are available for immediate consumption are prohibited during the operation of a motor vehicle. An open container in a moving vehicle is illegal, whether it’s being used by a driver or a passenger. 
What counts as an open container? The definition of an open container in Florida is slightly broader than many states. It’s classified as any container or vessel “which is immediately capable of being consumed from or the seal of which has been broken.” 
That means if you’ve just grabbed a wine bottle and the original manufacturer's seal has not been broken, you’re safe—but if it’s a recorked bottle of wine from dinner, you’re technically in possession of an open container with a broken seal and you could be cited with an open container offense.
Simply put, unsealed alcoholic beverages of any kind are prohibited from being in a moving vehicle. So, whether you’re parked or sober, possessing or consuming an alcoholic beverage inside a car can earn you a citation —even if your vehicle is “parked on a road.” Under this law, a “road” includes streets, highways, alleys, and any associated sidewalk, culverts, drains, ditches, and bridges. 
But here’s the tricky thing with this law: If a passenger has an open container, they will be held physically accountable for the container. But it will automatically be considered to be in the driver’s possession if it’s not in direct physical control of the passenger or in one of the following areas of the vehicle: 
  • Locked glove compartment
  • Locked trunk
  • Locked non-passenger area of the vehicle 

Exceptions to open container laws in Florida

Even though laws are laws, as with most states, there are always exceptions to the rule about open container laws for passengers in Florida.
According to Florida Statute Section 316.1936, there are specific scenarios where open container laws do not apply. Passengers in Florida are allowed to carry and open bottles under the following circumstances:
  • You are a passenger of a commercial vehicle under contract to provide transportation for passengers (taxi, limo, bus); the driver must hold a valid commercial driver’s license with a valid passenger endorsement
  • You are the passenger of a bus where the driver holds a valid commercial driver’s license with a valid passenger endorsement
  • You are a passenger of a self-contained motor home that exceeds 21 feet in length
Other than these, any open container of an alcoholic beverage must be stored out of reach of the driver and passengers or have the original seal in place.

Penalties for an open container violation in Florida

Any operator or passenger of a vehicle who violates Section 316.1936 of the Florida Statutes will be guilty of a noncriminal moving traffic violation. For drivers, that means a fine of $90, and for passengers, a fine of $60. 
While violation of the law in Florida can still come with heavy consequences, the offense is only considered a civil infraction or second-degree misdemeanor under Florida state law—not a criminal offense as in some other states.
If you choose to fight the infraction and request a hearing, you’ll be subject to a fine of $500 if you lose your court case. On top of that, you’ll also have to pay the associated court fees, and three demerit points will be deducted from your driving record. 
Look for a free consultation: If you choose to seek legal advice, you’ll also be responsible for any fees your criminal defense attorney charges. If possible, look for a law firm that doesn’t charge for the initial consultation. 
Check your county ordinances: These are the penalties imposed by the State of Florida—under Florida Statute 316.1936, counties or municipalities are also allowed to adopt ordinances and impose harsher restrictions, so the penalties might not end there.
Plus, if the violation caused death or injury, the driver will also be subject to additional penalties such as a higher fine, community service, or jail time.
Key Takeaway If you’re caught with an open container in a moving or parked vehicle, the driver could face a $90 fine and the passenger a $60 fine for a first offense. The fine and penalties increase if you choose to take it to court.

How to save on car insurance in Florida

While you’ll not likely be convicted of a DUI, unwanted charges on your driving record are never ideal, especially for insurance. Not familiarizing yourself with Florida’s open container laws and unknowingly hopping behind the wheel of a car with an open bottle of alcohol could land you in a bit of trouble. 
So, if you’re not up for paying a fortune for
Florida car insurance
, get to know your state’s alcohol and open container laws—and consider shopping for car insurance with a comparison app like
As a
licensed broker
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If you refuse a breathalyzer test in Florida, you will promptly face a compulsory suspension of your driver's license. This means you’ll be unable to operate your vehicle for a minimum period of one year.
No, under Florida law, it’s illegal to consume alcohol in an Uber or Lyft, or any comparable ride-sharing scenario. 
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