Open Container Laws in South Carolina

Under South Carolina’s open container law, you can receive $100 in fines or up to 30 days in jail for having an opened container of alcohol in your car.
Written by Mariza Morin
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
According to South Carolina's open container law, you can receive a $100 fine or 30 days in jail for possessing and transporting an open container of alcohol in your motor vehicle. 
Open container laws in the United States differ significantly from state to state. Therefore, knowing and understanding your state’s laws is essential to keeping a
clean driving record
car insurance
comparison super app
is here to help you navigate open container laws for South Carolina drivers. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the law and some important exceptions to help you keep your
South Carolina insurance rates

What is the open container law in South Carolina?

Section 61-4-110
of the South Carolina Code of Laws deals with “Open containers in motor vehicles.” In compliance with the law, you can get a citation if: 
  • You have an open or unsealed container containing any amount of alcohol in a vehicle of any kind
  • You are on a public highway or rights of way (drivable surface) in the State
Basically, it’s illegal to have any kind of open container of alcohol in your car while driving in  South Carolina unless it’s sealed or stored in the trunk or luggagecompartment. This law applies to both drivers and passengers, and it doesn’t matter if you’re sober. 

What counts as an open container?

In South Carolina, a container of alcohol is considered open when the original seal or cap has been opened or broken. It is illegal for you to drive your vehicle with an open container present in your vehicle—even if you’re sober.
However, you can legally transport beer or wine in a closed container. A few bottles of wine purchased on your way home from work are perfectly legal to carry so long as they are sealed and stored in the passenger area of your vehicle, in the trunk, or behind your backseat. 

Exceptions to South Carolina’s open container law

Here are a couple of important exceptions to South Carolina's open container law. Passengers are permitted to have an open container of alcohol in: 
  • The trunk or the luggage compartment 
  • Parked vehicles in legal parking places during functions where law enforcement officers are performing traffic control duties
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Penalties for violating South Carolina’s open container law

If you’re found guilty of violating South Carolina’s open container law, you’ll be issued a citation. This offense is considered a misdemeanor, and it’s subject to a fine of up to $100 and/or 30 days in jail.
If you were intoxicated or refused a breathalyzer test at the time of the offense, expect your penalties to quickly add up. Declining a sobriety test will result in a license suspension. 
If you’re convicted of a first-time DUI offense along with the open container citation, your fine will increase to between $400 to $1,000 and result in 48 hours to 90 days in jail. You’ll also have your driver’s license suspended for six months
Whether or not you end up with a DUI, an open container violation could increase your insurance rates significantly. Understanding the law can help you avoid paying an exorbitant amount for car insurance. 
Key Takeaway If you have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of your car while on a public highway, you could be fined up to $100 or spend 30 days in jail. 

How to save money on car insurance in South Carolina

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Either you or your passengers—or both—can receive citations for open container violations on South Carolina roads.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test in South Carolina, your license can be suspended.
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