Open Container Laws in Georgia

Under Georgia’s open container law, you can be fined $200 for having any opened container of alcohol in the passenger area of your car on a public road.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Edited by Amy Bobinger
In the state of
, you can be fined $200 for having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle while you’re on a public road—even if you’re not in the car at the time.
  • According to
    Georgia’s driving laws
    , having an open alcoholic beverage container in your vehicle could land you an open container violation.
  • Certain exceptions can allow you to store alcoholic beverages safely and securely to avoid violating the law.
  • Violating Georgia’s open container law could result in a fine of up to $200 and two points added to your driving record. More serious charges like a DUI charge could lead to license suspension, possible jail time, and more.

Open container law in Georgia: The basics

Section 40-6-253
of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated outlines the possession of an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. 
According to this law, you could get a citation for possessing an open container containing any amount of alcoholic beverage in any area of a vehicle on a roadway or shoulder of any public highway, road, or city street. 
In Georgia, whoever possesses or consumes the alcohol from the open container will be charged. But if the car is empty, the driver will be held accountable. 

What counts as an open container

When you think “open container,” you may picture an open can of beer or cup without a lid, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Georgia defines an open container as any “bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcohol that is open or has a broken seal and the beverage contents are partially removed.” 
However, containers that have been resealed in a way that satisfies Code Section 3-5-4 and/or 3-6-4 don’t count as open containers—but this is a narrow exception.

Exceptions to Georgia’s open container law

Georgia’s open container law does have a few special exceptions. Passengers may have an open container of alcohol if the vehicle is designated specifically for transportation for compensation, like a bus or a taxi. The living space of a motor home or house trailer are also exempt.
Georgia also allows licensed restaurants to permit customers who have consumed a partial bottle of wine to take it home with them, as long as the restaurant has done the following:
  • Resealed the bottle
  • Placed the bottle in a bag or container that makes it obvious if it’s been tampered with
  • Attached a dated receipt for the wine to the container
This exception also requires you to place the wine in a locked glove compartment, trunk, or in the back section of an SUV. 
Malt beverages produced in private residences are also exempt, as long as they are:
  • Sealed in a container 
  • Clearly labeled with the producer’s name and the location of production
  • Placed in a locked area of the vehicle

Penalties for violating Georgia’s open container law

If you violate the open container law in Georgia, you’ll be issued a traffic infraction, which comes with a maximum fine of $200. Two points will also be added to your driver’s license.
This penalty will escalate if you were intoxicated or refused a breathalyzer test. If you refuse an official sobriety test, you could face a driver’s license suspension of a year or longer.
If you’re convicted of a
DUI in Georgia
, along with an open container citation, you’ll get a misdemeanor charge. This warrants a minimum fine of $300, one to 10 days of jail time, and 12 months of probation. 
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