Photo by on

Massachusetts drivers cannot have open alcohol containers in their vehicles while on the road or in any area where the public has access.

According to the applicable statute,

Whoever, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or upon any way or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, possesses an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of any motor vehicle shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500.

M.G.L. c. 90, Section 24I(b)

If the drivers is under the age of 18, he will also lose his license for 180 days for the first offense and one year for a second offense. See M.G.L. c. 90, Section 24P(b).

So what constitutes an “open container”? According to the statute, it is

a bottle, can or other receptacle used to contain a liquid that has been opened or has a broken seal or the contents of which have been partially removed or consumed.

M.G.L. c. 90, Section 24I(a)

This definition does not apply, however, to authorized vendors under M.G.L. c. 138, Section 12.

To be in possession of an open container, the drink must be within the vehicle’s “passenger area.” This is defined as

the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while the motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in a seated position including, but not limited to, the glove compartment; provided, however, that the passenger area shall not include a motor vehicle’s trunk or a locked glove compartment or, if a motor vehicle is not equipped with a trunk, the area behind the last upright seat or an area not normally occupied by the driver or passenger.