Open Container Laws in Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island’s open container law, you can be fined $200 for having any opened container of alcohol in the passenger area of your car.
Written by Mariza Morin
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Under Rhode Island's open container law, you can receive a $200 fine and have your license suspended for six months if you are caught with an unsealed alcoholic beverage while operating or riding in a vehicle
Open container laws in the United States differ from state to state. Understanding your state’s specific laws is fundamental to keeping a
clean driving record
car insurance
comparison super app
has put together a guide to open container laws for Rhode Island drivers. We’ll explore the legal jargon and some key exceptions to help you keep your
Rhode Island insurance rates

What is the open container law in Rhode Island?

Section 31-22-21.1
of the Rhode Island General Laws deals with the “Presence of alcoholic beverages while operating or riding in a motor vehicle.” According to the law, you will get a citation if: 
  • The vehicle is operated on a public highway
  • The seal of the beverage has been broken
To put it another way—any open container of alcohol in the passenger area of your car is illegal in Rhode Island while you are operating your vehicle. But unlike most states, the driver will receive the full brunt of a citation, regardless of who is in possession of the open container.

What counts as an open container?

An open container in Rhode Island is considered any unsealed alcoholic beverage—whether it’s been previously unopened or the seal on the container has been broken or tampered with. It is illegal for you to drive with an open container present in your vehicle—even if you’re sober. 
In Rhode Island, an alcoholic beverage is defined as any liquid for human consumption with at least 0.5% of alcohol. While some N/A beverages may be permitted sealed or unsealed, the alcoholic wine or beer you picked up from the grocery store has to stay properly sealed on the way home.

Exceptions to Rhode Island’s open container law

Here are a few vital exceptions to Rhode Island’s open container law. 
Passengers over 21 years are permitted to possess and consume alcohol in authorized buses or limousines as long as the unsealed alcoholic beverage is not in the possession of the driver. 
Additionally, Rhode Island's open container laws do not apply to items in the trunk of your car. The state even authorizes transporting partially-removed alcoholic beverages after dining at a restaurant. However, the bottle must be resealed by the restaurant and stored in your trunk.
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Penalties for violating Rhode Island’s open container law

An open container violation is a traffic infraction in Rhode Island. This means a conviction can result in a $200 fine, a driver’s license suspension of up to six months, or both. Additionally, subsequent convictions can result in a $500 fine and a driver’s license suspension forup to one year.
The penalties can quickly add up if you are intoxicated during the time of the offense or if you decline a breathalyzer test. Refusing a sobriety test will result in a license suspension. 
If you’re convicted of a first-time DUI offense along with an open container violation, you may receive a fine between $100 and $300, 10 to 60 hours of required community service, and a prison sentence for up to one year. 
Whether or not you end up with a DUI, an open container citation on your driving record has the potential to raise your insurance rates substantially. Understanding the law can help you keep your rates from soaring out of control.  

How to save money on car insurance in Rhode Island

Following Rhode Island’s open container laws is a great way to steer clear of paying too much for car insurance. You can also save money by downloading
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Unlike most states, only the driver of a vehicle can receive citations for open container violations on Rhode Island roads—no matter who possesses the container.
Your license can be suspended if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test in Rhode Island.
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