Open Container Laws in Missouri

Missouri doesn’t ban open containers of alcohol on the road unless you’re in one of 30 cities with their own legislation.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
There’s no state law prohibiting it, but open containers of alcohol in the car have been banned in 30 municipalities in
to date. Fines in these cities range from $50 to $500, with a prison stay of up to 90 days.
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What is the open container law in Missouri?

Missouri bans drivers from drinking while driving, but not passengers, meaning there’s no law against open containers in cars. However, federal safety statutes prohibit open containers, so under the Transportation Equity Act of 1999, a percentage of Missouri’s federal highway funds are diverted instead to alcohol safety programs every year. 
Critics argue that a laissez-faire approach to open containers leads many drivers to simply pass their drinks to their passengers to avoid prosecution. About 30 municipalities around Missouri agree, the largest being Columbia, and have passed their own legislation barring open containers as a result.

What counts as an open container?

The states that do ban open containers in cars commonly define an open container as one that is:
  • Capable of holding liquid
  • Partially or completely filled with an alcoholic beverage
  • Unsealed or otherwise not in the same condition as when it left the manufacturer
  • Located within easy reach of the driver and not secured in another solid container or behind a partition
Under the laws of implied consent, Missouri considers drivers to have already agreed to Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) testing by getting on the road. If they suspect you of having surpassed 0.08% BAC, law enforcement officers have the right to pull you over and ask you to submit to a test.
Refusing to take the test will result in a one-year driver’s license suspension.
Key Takeaway Missouri criminalizes car drivers who consume alcohol and not car passengers, but individual cities may enforce their own open container laws and penalties.

What are the penalties in Missouri if you drink and drive?

The cities in Missouri that prohibit open containers can lay fines ranging from $50 to $500 and jail terms of up to 90 days. DUIs, however, are a matter of state law.
If you drive while under the influence in Missouri, your first conviction will result in a 90-day
driver’s license suspension
. A second conviction will result in a one-year revocation; if your first conviction was less than five years ago, that period could be extended up to five years. Three or more offenses within five years could cost you your driving privileges for up to 10 years.
And that’s on top of fines and jail sentences! First, second, and third offenses could result in fines from $1,000 to $2,000 to $10,000. The time you’ll spend in prison ranges from six months to four years. When you do return to civilian life, expect to see an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your car for a minimum of six months after your second or third conviction.

How to save money on car insurance in Missouri

The best advice regarding drinking and driving remains the simplest: don’t do it. Any alcohol-related violation on your Missouri driving record is cause for your
car insurance
provider to raise your rates.
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Missouri does not outlaw open containers of alcohol in the car.
If you refuse to have your BAC tested by an officer of the law, your Missouri driver’s license will be suspended for one year.
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