Few Exceptions to Kentucky’s Open Container Law

On behalf of The Berger Firm Oct. 26, 2018

Most people probably understand that it is both illegal and dangerous for a driver to consume alcohol while operating a motor vehicle but may not be aware of what the law says about consumption of alcohol by a passenger of a vehicle rather than the driver. In most of the country, including Kentucky, it is illegal for an individual to drink alcohol while inside a vehicle even if the individual is not driving.

According to FindLaw, Kentucky is one of forty-three states that have open container laws which prohibit the presence of unsealed containers of alcohol, such as bottles or cans, inside a vehicle. It does not matter if the container is in the possession of a passenger and the driver of a vehicle has not so much as touched it; if law enforcement pulls over a vehicle in which a passenger is in possession of an open container of alcohol, the driver and the passenger may both receive a citation for an open container violation.

However, the National Conference of State Legislatures notes a few exceptions to this rule in Kentucky. A patron of a restaurant who purchases a bottle of wine with a meal and only consumes part of the bottle may transport the bottle, along with the remaining portion of its contents, home in a vehicle, but only after meeting certain conditions. The patron must receive a dated receipt for the purchase of the wine from the restaurant licensee or a restaurant employee, who must then securely reseal the bottle and place it in a bag or other visibly secured container.

The other exception is that passengers are not prohibited from drinking alcohol while confined to the passenger area of a motor coach, motor home or recreational vehicle, and passengers of taxis, limousines, buses and other vehicles used primarily for the transportation of people in exchange for compensation are also exempt from open container laws.