Pennsylvania’s Open Container Rules and Regulations

If you are traveling in a car in Pennsylvania, you must adhere to all of the rules of the road. Those rules include statewide regulations regarding the presence of alcohol in your vehicle. Such laws include those related to drunk driving in Pennsylvania, as well as to the general possession of alcohol in a moving vehicle. Regardless of whether you are the driver of the car or a passenger, you will be held accountable if you violate open container or general intoxication regulations. Therefore, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the rules relating to possessing alcohol in a Pennsylvania vehicle before you attempt to transport any alcohol within the state. Below is a list of Pennsylvania’s open container rules and related regulations that you can use to help you avoid becoming involved in legal entanglements related to alcohol possession in Pennsylvania.

Possessing an Open Container While Driving in Pennsylvania

It is unlawful for you to drive your vehicle while an open container of alcohol is present in the passenger area of the vehicle in Pennsylvania, even if you are not drunk and are not consuming the alcohol while you are driving. However, you may transport sealed alcohol containers in the passenger area of the car.

If you have purchased a bottle of wine during a restaurant meal in Pennsylvania, it is also lawful for you to transport the bottle home in the passenger section of your vehicle as long as the bottle has been resealed properly. However, it is not advisable to do so, since any law enforcement officer who pulls you over may detain you until you can explain the situation and prove that the bottle has been resealed properly.

If you would like to transport other previously opened bottles of alcohol in your vehicle, you may do so, but the bottles must not be easily accessible in the passenger section of the vehicle. In order to transport the bottles legally, they must be stored in the trunk of your vehicle. If your vehicle does not have a trunk, the bottles must be secured in a sealed or locked container.

Possessing an Open Container as a Drunk Driver in Pennsylvania

In the state of Pennsylvania, you will be considered legally drunk if a law enforcement officer finds that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher. Your penalty for driving while under the influence of alcohol will depend on how high your BAC is, as well as whether or not the offense in question is your first. However, you will face a minimum of a fine. Highway safety course completion or probation may also be required. If you commit multiple offenses, your license may be suspended and you may be required to serve time in jail as well. Due to the fact that it is unlawful to possess an open container of alcohol in a Pennsylvania vehicle, driving with an open container while intoxicated will result in penalties that are on the more severe end of the spectrum. The exact penalties will be determined by the number of current offenses you are committing in combination with your criminal record, if you have one.

Possessing an Open Container as a Passenger in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania open container law applies to both drivers and passengers. Therefore, if you are a passenger, you may face fines if the vehicle is pulled over and an open container is present. According to the law, every person in the vehicle with you can be penalized as well. It does not matter who owns the bottles of alcohol in question. Additionally, you and everyone in the vehicle with you can be penalized for the open container regardless of whether or not the driver or any of the passengers are currently intoxicated at the time of the traffic stop.

Possessing an Open Container as a Bus or Commercial Vehicle Driver

If you are a commercial vehicle driver and you are found to be in possession of an open container of alcohol in Pennsylvania, you will be held personally liable for violating the law. Your employer may also be held liable for allowing you to drive while in violation of the law. Therefore, you may face both license suspension and possible loss of your job if you commit an open container violation.

The state of Pennsylvania also has a zero-tolerance policy for school bus drivers who are in violation of any alcohol- or drug-related state statutes. Therefore, if you are found to be in possession of an open container or intoxicated while driving a school bus, you will immediately lose your job. You will also face the standard legal penalties associated with the offense, which may include fines, probation or serving time in jail.

Possessing an Open Container Vehicles Designed for Passenger Transportation

The Pennsylvania open container law has several exceptions. For instance, if you are the driver of a taxi, limousine or bus, you may not legally drink alcohol or be drunk while the vehicle is moving. However, if you are the passenger in such a vehicle, it is lawful for you to drink alcohol, be drunk and possess one or more open containers of alcohol. The alcohol must simply be kept in the back of the vehicle where the driver has no access to it. Possessing an open container of alcohol in a camper or recreational vehicle (RV) in Pennsylvania is also legal as long as the alcohol is kept in the living quarters of the RV and not near the driver.