Understanding open container laws in Illinois can help you to avoid making a mistake that could cost you a decent amount of money. Open container laws describe both alcohol and marijuana. Therefore, if you have a medical marijuana card or have a passenger with one, you need to understand how the law pertains to this as well.
While penalties for violating open container laws are not as severe as they are for more serious crimes such as a DUI, they can still be quite expensive. Plus, you could also be facing jail time in some cases.
These Laws Are Meant To Help Curb Drunk Driving
What is the purpose of open container laws? The purpose is to help reduce the incidence of drunk driving. The logic here is pretty simple. If you make it illegal for drivers to possess an open container, you help to remove the temptation to take a drink.
Is this a perfect system? No, but given the number of alcohol-related automobile fatalities that occur each year, anything that can be done to reduce the incidence of drunk driving is a good thing.
What Are The Requirements Under The Law?
By law, any container of alcohol or marijuana in a car must be sealed. The seal has to be a tamper-evident seal. What happens if you leave a restaurant and have an open bottle of wine? You certainly don’t want to throw away a great bottle of wine. But, you also don’t want to violate any open container laws.
Fortunately, the law allows for a workaround here. If you are taking an open bottle of wine home then that wine can be sealed in a tamper-evident bag by the restaurant. If you have your open bottle of wine in a tamper-evident bag, and you have a dated receipt for the wine, you shouldn’t have any issues regarding the violation of open container laws.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are some exceptions that allow for an open container of alcohol to be in a motor vehicle without the law being broken. The most notable exception is in the case of limos, chartered buses, and motorhomes.
In these types of vehicles, it is legal to have an open container of alcohol, so long as that open container is not in the driver compartment of the vehicle.
What Are The Penalties For Violating Open Container Laws?
Like any other law, there are penalties for violating open container laws. Violating an open container law for the first time is usually a petty offense with a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine.
A second violation of an open container law within a year of the first violation could result in additional fines. Plus, up to a year of receiving a driver’s license suspension. In the event of medical marijuana, violating open container laws carries up to a $2,5000 fine. Plus, up to 1 year in jail.
As you can see, the penalties for both alcohol and marijuana open container violations are significant. Therefore, you definitely want to avoid having to face them.