The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

Feds Are Pushing States to Adopt Open Container Laws

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drunk driving is the most frequently committed violent crime in America.

The leading cause of death among young Americans is vehicle crashes. While this doesn't necessarily narrow the pool down to crashes related to impaired driving, the NHTSA points out that among motor vehicle fatalities, alcohol is the leading cause of these fatalities.

This is why drunk driving laws have taken importance on the national stage. While each state is responsible for its own drunk driving laws, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century Restoration Act says, in Section 154, that states must enact open container laws.

Failure to enact an open container law would result in a portion of the Federal-aid highway construction funding being diverted to the state's DUI countermeasures.

What are open container laws? These are laws where alcohol is forbidden in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. The passenger area includes the glove compartments and any other areas of the vehicle that are easily and readily accessible by the drivers or the passengers.

A validly compliant open container law would have these six elements:

  1. The law would prohibit any consumption or open alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle.
  2. The law specifically states which part of the vehicle is the "passenger portion" and designates the areas where open containers are allowed to be held for storage.
  3. The law describes all alcoholic beverages.
  4. The law applies to all occupants of the motor vehicle.
  5. The law applies to all motor vehicles traveling anywhere on a public highway or right of way of the public highway.
  6. The law requires that primary enforcement law status must be given to open container laws.

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