Arizona Open Container Laws

Open Container Law Arizona

Arizona has a very strict set of laws with very specific wording when it comes to the carrying of open containers in a vehicle. Being caught with an open container in a traffic stop can be a serious offense, and if you are thought to be under the influence the officer can use that as probable cause to test you. Make sure that you are seeking legal counsel if you find yourself in a situation where you have been pulled over and arrested due to the open container laws.

What the AZ Open Container Law Says

A.R.S. § 4-251 is the law for alcohol in a car. It outlines the violations, the classification, the exceptions, and the definitions within the law.

  • Motor Vehicle- Motor vehicle refers to any vehicle that is being driven or moved by mechanical power. It is primarily used on public highways and does not include vehicles exclusively ran on rails.
  • Open Container- Refers to any bottle, can, jar, or container used for dispensing alcohol and has been opened or the seal is broken, and contents have been removed from the container.
  • Passenger Compartment- This is the area of the vehicle that is designed to seat the driver and other passengers. This includes unlocked glove boxes and any unlocked portable devices within reach of anyone occupying the vehicle. This does not include the trunk, the locked glove box, or the area behind the third row when there is no trunk.
  • Public Highway/Right-of-Way of a Public Highway- This refers to any roadways within government control in which a vehicle drives upon.

It is illegal to have any kind of open container in a passenger compartment. What that means is that there cannot be a can, bottle, jar, or container that has had the seal broken within reach of any person in the vehicle.

Passengers, albeit they are not driving, cannot drink while the vehicle is operational. This goes against the open container and passenger compartment definitions at the same time.

What is an open container according to Arizona law?

In Arizona, an open container refers to any container that has been opened, had the seal broken, or has had its contents partially removed. This includes bottles, cans, or any other receptacle that holds alcohol. However, it’s important to note that this definition also extends to containers that have been resealed, even if they still contain alcohol. This means that if you open a beer, take a sip, and then put the cap back on, it is still considered an open container under Arizona law.

It’s also worth mentioning that Arizona’s open container laws apply to both drivers and passengers in a vehicle. So, even if you are a passenger and not the one driving, you could still be charged with an open container violation if you have an open container in your possession.

You Can Carry an Open Container

There is a way to carry an open container in your vehicle that will not get you in trouble or arrested. The fine print of the law states that it cannot be within reach. This means that something locked or out of reach is enough.

Putting it in a locked glove box or in a separate locked box in your vehicle where it cannot be accessed without a key is allowable. So is placing the container in the trunk. If you do not have a trunk on your vehicle, like a van or SUV, it can be placed behind the third-row seating or whatever row the last set of seats is in the vehicle.

Who can possess an open container in Arizona?

In Arizona, open containers of alcohol are prohibited in certain areas and circumstances. It is illegal for the driver of a motor vehicle to have an open container of alcohol within reach, which means that it cannot be in the passenger seat, on the floor, or anywhere else that is easily accessible to the driver.

Furthermore, it is illegal for passengers in a vehicle to have an open container of alcohol if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is also illegal for passengers in a vehicle to have an open container of alcohol if they are under the age of 21.

However, there are a few exceptions to these rules. Passengers in a taxi, bus, limousine, or other commercial vehicle may possess an open container of alcohol if the vehicle is designed and used for the transportation of people for compensation. Additionally, passengers in a motor home or other type of recreational vehicle may have an open container of alcohol in the living quarters of the vehicle as long as it is not accessible to the driver.

Where can you have an open container in Arizona?

Arizona’s open container laws are strict and it is important to know where you are allowed to have an open container to avoid any potential legal troubles. The state of Arizona prohibits open containers of alcohol in any public place or area that is accessible to the public. This includes streets, sidewalks, parks, and parking lots. It is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, whether it is being driven or not.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are attending a special event that has been authorized by the state, county, or city, and the event has designated areas where alcohol is allowed, then you may be able to have an open container in those areas. Additionally, some cities and towns have created entertainment districts where people can walk around with open containers of alcohol, but these areas are tightly regulated and require special permits.

Even in areas where open containers are allowed, there are still restrictions on the types of containers that are allowed. Typically, only certain types of disposable cups or plastic containers are allowed and glass bottles are prohibited for safety reasons.

If You Get Pulled Over

If you get pulled over, the violation of an open container is considered a class 2 misdemeanor. What this means is that based on Arizona’s sentencing procedures, the fine for a class 2 misdemeanor is up to $750 and a maximum of 4 months in jail.

It is important, if you find yourself in a situation like this, to call an attorney right away who specializes in charges that revolve around DUIs and liquor-related offenses. They can help defend you against the charges that you are facing in the state of Arizona.

What are the penalties for violating Arizona’s open container laws?

Arizona’s open container laws are taken seriously and individuals who violate these laws can face harsh penalties. If you are caught with an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, you can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor which can result in a fine of up to $750 and up to four months in jail. Additionally, you may also face community service and probation as well as suspension of your driver’s license.

If you are a repeat offender, the penalties can be even more severe. You could face higher fines, longer jail time, and even a felony charge.

It’s important to note that these penalties not only apply to the driver of the vehicle but also to any passengers who have an open container of alcohol. If you are a passenger and have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, you can also be charged with a violation of Arizona’s open container laws.

Can you have an open container in a parked car in Arizona?

When it comes to Arizona’s open container laws, many people wonder whether it’s legal to have an open container in a parked car. The answer is no, it is not legal to have an open container in a parked car in Arizona. Even if the car is parked on private property, such as a driveway or parking lot, it is still illegal to have an open container in the car.

Arizona’s open container laws are designed to prevent people from drinking and driving, as well as to discourage public drunkenness. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether the car is parked or being driven – having an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of the car is against the law.

It’s important to note that the law applies to all types of containers, not just bottles or cans. If there is any open container of alcohol in the passenger area of the car, it is considered a violation of the law.


In conclusion, Arizona’s open container laws are strict and should be adhered to at all times. It is essential to understand the laws to avoid any legal trouble while driving or even walking on the streets. Arizona has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to open containers, and a violation could lead to severe consequences such as hefty fines, suspension of driving licenses, and even jail time.

To stay safe and avoid any legal issues, it is advisable to keep all alcoholic beverages in a sealed container while driving and to avoid drinking alcohol in public places. Always make sure to plan ahead and have a designated driver if you plan on consuming alcohol. Remember, drinking and driving is not only against the law but also a severe safety hazard for yourself and others on the road.