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Ohio Open Container Laws

Charged with an Open Container Violation in Columbus? For a Free Consult, Call LHA: (614) 500-3836.

Ohio Revised Code 4301.62 states that no person shall have in their possession an open container of beer or intoxicating liquor in a liquor store, motor vehicle, or in any public space. If you are charged with an Ohio open container, you should contact to our Columbus alcohol crime attorneys at (614) 500-3836 as soon as possible.

What is an Ohio Open Container Charge?

To face an open container charge in Central Ohio, you must have been carrying an open alcoholic drink in any of the following circumstances:

  • In a liquor store (unless it was a sample)
  • Anywhere that has a permit, unless any of the following apply: the location is authorized to sell beer or liquor for immediate consumption; the location is authorized to serve beer, wine, or mixed drinks; you’re at a convention center, music festival, performing arts center or orchestral performance; or you’re consuming a sample.
  • In any other public place
  • In a car, moving or stationary, whether you’re the driver or a passenger, unless you’ve paid to ride in a limousine and you’re sitting in the back

Nearly every day, people receive open container charges in Columbus. During every OSU football season, thousands of tickets are issued to tailgating fans.

Open Container Penalties

An open container charge is a minor misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $150 fine. However, it’s important to note that a charge of alleged beer or intoxicating liquor consumption may lead to larger open container fines as well as the potential for imprisonment. If you consume alcohol in a vehicle that is not an exception, you may be left with a fourth-degree misdemeanor which may lead to a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail.

Vehicles that are Exceptions to Ohio’s Open Container Law

Ohio does not view all vehicles as equal. Therefore, the state does permit for certain types of open containers to be legally transported in specific types or specific areas of vehicles. The open container law does not apply to anyone who pays for the use of a chauffeured limo. You can have an open container in a limo if:

  • You are a passenger in the limo
  • You are not in the front compartment of the limo by the driver
  • The limo is on any street, highway, or public or private property that is available to the public for parking or vehicular travel

In addition, you may have an open bottle of wine in your vehicle if it was purchased from someone who has permit that gives them the right to sell wine for consumption and it was securely resealed by them. The opened, resealed bottle of wine should also be kept in the trunk of a car or behind the upright seat or in an area that is not typically occupied by the driver or passengers.

Recent Ohio Open Container Law

In April 2015, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio signed a bill that allows certain cities to create open-container districts. The bill states that cities or townships with a population of 35,000 or more have the right to establish one or two half-mile outdoor drinking zones.

How an Open Container Charge in Columbus Can Affect Your Life

If you are convicted of an open container offense, additional potential issues include:

  • Maintaining your current employment
  • Difficulty getting a good job in the future
  • Difficulty and possible denial in immigration and naturalization proceedings

Although it is a minor misdemeanor that is punishable only by a fine, an open container violation is still an alcohol-related offense and should be treated with an appropriate level of concern.

Defending Against Open Container Charges in Columbus

At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we take an aggressive and comprehensive approach when representing clients charged with open container. First and foremost, we will figure out what mistakes the police made and what legal issues can be raised on your behalf. We do this by requesting discovery from the prosecutor. The discovery will generally consist of police reports, additional investigative notes and potentially a lab analysis of the alcohol. As our client, you will receive a copy of everything received from the prosecutor for your review

Based on the legal weaknesses in the State of Ohio’s case and any other mitigating factors, we will negotiate the best possible plea available with the prosecutor for you to consider in resolving your case. If your case cannot be resolved satisfactorily with a plea, it would then proceed to a motion hearing (a hearing where the judge issues a ruling on an evidentiary issue) or a trial to the judge or jury, depending on the circumstances.

Contact a Columbus Open Container Attorney

If you’re facing an Ohio open container charge, it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you have any questions left unanswered, or if you need a competent, experienced Columbus alcohol crime attorney to fight for you in court, contact Luftman, Heck, & Associates at (614) 500-3836, or reach out online today.


Open container is a minor misdemeanor and carries with it a potential fine of no more than $150.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have an open container if I'm a boat passenger?
Yes, you can! The person operating the boat, however, still can’t have an open container, and his or her blood alcohol content cannot exceed 0.08, just like with cars.


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