Open Container Laws in Mississippi

As long as there’s no local law stating otherwise, you can drive with an open container in Mississippi—just be sure to keep your BAC below 0.8%.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
Mississippi
has no single open container law—instead, counties and municipalities decide for themselves whether to punish drivers who drink, and how. Driving under the influence is another matter, with fines of up to $5,000 and a prison stay of up to five years.
Driving while intoxicated is a concern across the country, but the details of what’s allowed and what isn’t are different from state to state. So how do you know if you’ll be ticketed? Are you breaking any laws by leaving an open bottle of beer in the backseat, like you would be if you drove without
car insurance
?
In this article, we are diving into the open container laws in the state of Mississippi. We’ll cover the rules, exceptions, and penalties.
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What is the open container law in Mississippi?

There’s no single open container law that applies to the whole of Mississippi. The state allows each county and municipality to decide for itself whether drinking at the wheel counts as an offense and how to punish it.
For example, in Jackson, it’s illegal for anyone to drive with an open container of alcohol within the city limit. Oxford, on the other hand, has no such compunctions—the run to Walker’s store for beer has long been a Sunday tradition. In fact, if there’s no explicit local code against it, you’re permitted to drink and drive as long as you keep your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) below 0.8%.
That being said, if law enforcement spots you wetting your whistle behind the wheel, they could pull you over and subject you to tests and questions. And if you get into an accident, the open six-pack in your backseat isn’t likely to impress the other driver, the police officer at the scene, or your insurance company.

What counts as an open container?

In common terms, an open container is anything holding a full or partial amount of alcohol that’s been unsealed. For a more comprehensive definition, we’ll turn to
Jackson’s Code of Ordinances
:
Open container means any opened can, bottle, carton, glass or other vessel containing any alcoholic beverage and from which alcohol is immediately capable of being consumed or which the seal or top placed by the manufacturer has been broken.
In Mississippi, it’s understood that drivers give consent to have their BAC tested by the very act of driving. The regulations that form this rule are known as the laws of
implied consent
. Law enforcement officers have the right to ask you to submit to a test to measure your BAC.
Failing to pass a test of your BAC is bad enough, but if you refuse the test, you’ll be served with an immediate 90-day license suspension. A driver with a DUI or previous refusal in their past will receive a suspension of one year.
Key Takeaway Check your county and city laws to see if drinking while driving is permitted, but remember that you might be asked to pass a test if an officer suspects your BAC is over 0.8%.

Penalties for violating Mississippi’s open container law

As the laws on open containers vary from place to place, so do the penalties. In the case of Jackson, the exact penalties for driving with an open container are unclear, but the consequences for public intoxication (or being intoxicated on public transit) are a $100 fine and a jail stay of up to 30 days.
What the state does enforce without exception are the laws related to Driving Under the Influence (DUI). If you’re caught sitting in the driver’s seat while intoxicated, you could face:
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Drivers and passengers are both permitted to drink while driving in Mississippi, as long as local laws don’t prohibit it.
If you refuse law enforcement’s request to measure your BAC, your license will be suspended for 90 days—or a year, if you have a prior refusal on record.
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