Open Container Laws in Ohio

In Ohio, you can be fined $150 for having any opened container of alcohol in the passenger area of your car, even if you’re completely sober.
Written by Sara Brody
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
Under
Ohio’s
open container law, you could receive a $150 fine if you have an open container of alcohol in your car, even if you haven’t had a drop to drink. If you consume alcohol while driving, the penalties are much harsher, including a fine of $250 and up to 30 days in jail. 
In the US, open container laws vary from state to state, so it’s essential to know your local rules.  Luckily,
Jerry
is here with a guide to everything you need to know about open container laws in Ohio.
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What is the open container law in Ohio?

Section 4301.62
of the Ohio Revised Code, updated as of March 23, 2022, deals with circumstances in which opened containers of beer or liquor are prohibited. According to this law, you can get a citation if you have an open or unsealed container (e.g. a can, bottle, or other receptacle) containing any amount of alcohol in your car, unless you’ve paid to ride in a limousine and are sitting in the back. 
In short, having any kind of open container of alcohol in your car is illegal in Ohio in most circumstances, even if you haven’t had a drop to drink. The only exceptions are luxurious rides in a rented limo, or securely storing a bottle of wine that has been opened and resealed.

What counts as an open container?

Ohio law doesn’t explicitly define what is considered an “open container,” but you should play things safe and assume it refers to more than just a cup with no lid or an open can of beer. To err on the side of caution, avoid driving with a container that holds any amount of alcohol and has had the seal broken or contents removed. 

Exceptions to Ohio’s open container law

There is are two key exceptions to Ohio’s open container law. First, a passenger seated in the back of a chauffeured limousine may carry an open container during the ride.
Another exception to the rule is if you have resealed an open bottle of wine and store it securely in the trunk of your car or behind the upright seat in an area not typically occupied by passengers. 
Key Takeaway If you’re caught driving with an open container of alcohol in Ohio, you could be fined up to $150. 

Penalties for violating Ohio’s open container law

In Ohio, driving with an open container is considered a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $150. However, the penalties are much more severe if evidence indicates that you also consumed alcohol while driving. In that case, you’ll be guilty of a misdemeanor in the fourth degree, punishable by a fine of up to $250 and a maximum of 30 days in jail
If you are pulled over with an open container, you’ll be required to take a breathalyzer test. If your results are positive or if you refuse to take the test, you can wind up with a license suspension to boot.
With or without a license suspension, an open container citation creates a criminal record that could lead to significant hikes in your insurance rate. To avoid rising premiums, it’s important to understand the details of the law. 
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Both you and your passengers can receive citations for open container violations on Ohio roads.
Your license can be suspended if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test in Ohio.
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