Open Container Laws in Illinois

Under Illinois’ open container law, you can be fined $1000 for having any opened container of alcohol in the passenger area of your car, even if you’re parked.
Written by John Pickhaver
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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You could face a fine of up to $1000 if you violate Illinois’ law regarding open containers, which prohibits possessing an alcohol container with an opened seal in the passenger section of your vehicle—even if you are parked and sober.
Laws regarding open containers vary widely in the United States, so being mindful of your state’s laws is essential. 
Car insurance
comparison and broker app
Jerry
has put together a useful guide regarding open container laws in
Illinois
as they relate to motorists. We’ll take a close look at what the law says and review some notable exceptions to help prevent you from committing a violation.
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What is the open container law in Illinois?

Section 11.502
of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, effective August 23, 2019, relates to “Transportation or possession of alcoholic liquor in a motor vehicle.” According to this law, you can be issued a citation if you or a passenger in your car carries, possesses, or has an open alcohol container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. 
A sealed bottle or container of alcohol is allowed to be legally transported in your vehicle, including in the passenger area. Unsealed alcohol, however, must be stored in your trunk or locked in your glove department. 

What counts as an open container?

Illinois law states that an open container is any receptacle ​that holds any amount of alcoholic drink that has been unsealed or opened. 
The completely-sealed bottle of cooking wine you got at Meijer should be okay, more so if you store it in the trunk or the backseat. However, a flask half-full of vodka or a re-corked bottle of rosé will set you up for a citation and a hefty fine if it's anywhere except your locked glove box or trunk.

Exceptions to Illinois’ open container law

Some exceptions apply to Illinois’ open container law. Passengers may have an open container of alcohol in the following vehicles: 
  • Limos
  • Charters buses
  • Motor homes
Key Takeaway If you have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle’s passenger area while on a public highway, you could face a fine of up to $1000. 

Penalties for violating Illinois’ open container law

If you’re only found guilty of violating Illinois’ open container law, you’ll be issued a citation. This violation is considered a petty offense that can result in a fine of up to $1000.
In addition to the fine, a driver who's convicted of an open container offense for a second or subsequent time within a year may face a license suspension.
Keep in mind that this
citation
can quickly escalate if you were inebriated at the time of the violation or if you refuse a breathalyzer test. There is a mandatory one-year license suspension if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. 
If you’re convicted of breaking
Illinois' DUI laws
along with the open container citation, the crime becomes a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in your license being suspended for one year or two years if you are under the age of 21.  
You could be responsible for an additional $500 fine along with a mandatory minimum of 100 hours of community service. 
These penalties increase if you are driving with a child under the age of 16 to a $1000 fine and the possibility of six months in prison along with additional community service requirements. 
DWI or not, an open container offense results in a criminal record which will most likely increase your insurance premium significantly. Knowing the ins and outs of the law, however, can help you follow the rules to prevent an unexpected jump in your premium.  

How to save money on car insurance in Illinois

Practicing safe driving habits with knowledge of open container laws in Illinois is the best way to prevent paying too much for car insurance. An additional way is to download
Jerry
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You and your passenger could receive citations for violating open container laws on Illinois roads.
There is a mandatory one-year license suspension if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test in Illinois.
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