Open Container Laws in Arkansas

An open container of alcohol in the driver’s or passenger’s seat area of a car can result in 30 days in jail and a fine of $500 in Arkansas.
Written by Olivia Rose
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Drivers in
will face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine if an open container of alcohol is found in the driver’s seat, passenger’s seat, or an area of the vehicle readily accessible to the driver or passenger on a public roadway. 
Open container laws look different from state to state, so it’s important to know the laws of your state before lugging around a half-drunk bottle of whiskey. 
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What is the open container law in Arkansas?

Section 5-71-218
of the Arkansas Code states Arkansas’ open container laws (which didn’t even exist until 2017). In Arkansas, you’ll be breaking the law if
  • You have an open container with any amount of alcohol in the car and the container is in the driver’s seat or passenger’s seat area of the car, OR
  • You are on a public highway or the right-of-way of a public highway and the container is readily accessible to the driver or passenger of the car while in a seated position. 

What counts as an open container?

In Arkansas, an open container is any alcohol container that has a broken seal, has been open, or has some of the contents removed. That means things like a re-corked bottle of wine or a half-finished handle of tequila. 

Exceptions to Arkansas’ open container law

When it comes to open container laws, Arkansas falls on the more lenient side. There are quite a few exceptions to Arkansas’ open container law. You may have an open container in your car in Arkansas if:
  • The open container is outside the driver or passenger area—or another area commonly used for transporting passengers (such as the cargo area).
  • The open container is in a locked area of your car. This includes, without limitation, the glove compartment or center console
  • In a vehicle without a trunk, the open container is behind the last upright seat.
Arkansas also has special exemptions for vehicles primarily used for the transportation of passengers (like a limo) and recreational vehicles, motor homes, and house trailers. For these vehicles, open containers are permitted next to a passenger, as long as the passenger is in an area of the vehicle designated for passengers only and not readily accessible to the driver of the vehicle
Key Takeaway: If your open container of alcohol is in the driver’s or passenger’s seating areas, you’re violating Arkansas open container law. 
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Penalties for violating Arkansas’ open container law

If you violate Arkansas’ open container law, you’ll be looking at up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. 
But those are just the penalties for driving illegally with an open container. The consequences are much more severe if you are found guilty of
driving while intoxicated
or refusing a breathalyzer test.
In Arkansas, refusing a sobriety test can result in a
license suspension
. And if you are found guilty of a DUI—driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.08%—you’ll be looking at a fine of up to $1,000 for your first offense. 
Not only are the fines associated with violating open container laws or driving while intoxicated pricey—all these offenses can raise your insurance rates. Knowing the laws where you drive can help you avoid any surprising car insurance hikes. 

How to save money on car insurance in Arkansas

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The driver operating the vehicle gets the ticket if found with an illegal open container in the car.
Denying a breathalyzer in Arkansas can result in a license suspension of up to 180 days for your first offense.
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