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Missouri's Unique Open Container Laws

While Missouri statutes outline very stringent restrictions on the consumption and sale of alcohol, many residents are surprised to learn that there is no state law governing what is known as "open container" circumstances. While statute 577.017.1 does restrict the consumption of alcohol by an operator of a moving vehicle, there is no law restricting passengers from consuming alcohol. This lack of a state legislature—which is common elsewhere in the U.S.—has spurned communities all over Missouri to take action to further protect their roads and motorists.

Numerous municipalities in Missouri have enacted their own local laws that closely resemble "open container" laws in other states. These laws make any open containers of alcohol illegal in a moving vehicle, for both drivers and passengers. While many Missourians are hoping for a statewide law soon, the municipal laws pose a rather unique dilemma for drivers passing over city and town borders.

Factors Considered by Law Enforcement

Even in cities where there are no open container laws, drivers can often be subjected to suspicion if stopped by police. Law enforcement must take a number of different factors into consideration:

  • The presence of passengers in the vehicle
  • The location of open containers in the vehicle
  • Any visible signs of intoxication by the driver

So, while open containers are allowed in a moving vehicle in most places in Missouri, police officers may still determine probable cause for a DUI if they believe the driver has been drinking from them.

Careful Considerations for St. Louis Drivers

St. Louis does not have open container laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol by vehicle passengers, but several of its surrounding cities do. These include Hazelwood, Manchester, Clayton, Maryland Heights, and Ballwin. This requires heightened vigilance for both St. Louis drivers and passengers, especially during highway travel where vehicles pass through several different municipalities.

Contact a Proven St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney!

If you have been charged with an open container offense or another DUI-related charge, then call us at Millikan Wright, LLC today. Our legal team of former police officers and a prosecuting attorney knows how to understand your charges, defend against the state's case against you, and protect your rights in a court of law.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a proven St. Louis criminal defense attorney.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DWI

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