It is against Oklahoma law to knowingly transport an open alcohol container within the interior of a vehicle where it may be accessible to a driver upon any public street, alley, or public highway. While the Oklahoma open container law is primarily aimed at deterring drivers from drinking and driving, the law prohibits any open alcoholic containers. That means that even passengers are prohibited from carrying or drinking from an open container within the immediate passenger and driver area in a vehicle that is in motion. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1220
If the container has been opened, it must be stored in the rear trunk or rear compartment of the vehicle. This includes the spare tire compartment in a station wagon or panel truck, or any other outside compartment which is not accessible to the driver or any other person in the vehicle while it is in motion.
What is an Open Container?
If the beverage has its original unbroken seal or unopened cap in place, it may be within the interior of the passenger compartment. Here are some examples of opened containers:
- a wine bottle with a cork removed and re-corked;
- a beer can pop-top which is opened;
- a beer bottle with the cap removed, even if it is put back in place later; or
- a whiskey bottle with the sealed cap removed.
Penalties for Violating the Open Container Law in Oklahoma
The crime is a misdemeanor in Claremore. It is punishable by a fine of $500, up to six months in jail, or both. In addition, the court will impose a special assessment of $100 for the Trauma Care Assistance Revolving Fund.
There are exceptions for passengers in certain types of buses and limousines. Those passengers may have an open alcoholic container within the interior of the bus or limousine. However, the driver of the bus or limo is prohibited from having an open container.
For the purposes of this statute, a bus is defined as a vehicle chartered or hired for transporting people. It does not include school buses or a bus or shuttle operating within a city or town on a scheduled route. A limousine is a chauffeur-driven vehicle hired for transportation.
Both of these exceptions are aimed at the “party” bus or limo. Anyone drinking an alcoholic beverage within such a bus or limo must be of the legal age to drink alcohol. Knowingly transporting minors who are drinking or are in possession of alcohol is a separate misdemeanor charge, both for the driver and for the owner of the bus or limo.
A misdemeanor in Oklahoma may not seem all that serious. But any time that you are facing the possibility of jail time, you should take the matter seriously. Get help when you need it most. Talk to a Claremore lawyer today.
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