Everyone knows that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. But what about having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle? Louisiana law does prohibit transporting an open alcoholic beverage on public highways.
However, there are some notable aspects of and exceptions to this law.
According to the law, an open container is one that has a broken seal or has contents that are partially removed. This restriction applies to everyone within a vehicle, including passengers.
Just because you have an open container somewhere in your vehicle does not guarantee you are guilty of a crime. The law permits open containers in locked glove compartments, trunks, behind back seats and other areas that are not readily accessible or occupied by passengers or drivers.
The law generally only applies to passenger cars and trucks. It does not apply to passengers in certain vehicles such as limousines, buses, parade floats, courtesy vehicles and recreational vehicles longer than 21 feet.
One staple of Louisiana is its drive-thru daiquiri shops. This makes it confusing for locals and tourists alike. You can operate your vehicle with a frozen daiquiri in it as long as no one has unsealed it. In this context, sealed means the lid is on, there is no straw in the cup and the contents have not been removed. Many of these drive-thru shops will place tape over the hole for straws on the lid. If you take this piece of tape off, it may call into question whether the container is open.
Violating the open container law is a misdemeanor. If you receive a conviction, you may receive a maximum fine of $100. An open container violation alone does not warrant any jail time.
The bottom line is that the laws relating to alcohol and driving are strict in Louisiana. If you face charges, you may want to seek counsel.