Nevada’s open container law is NRS 484B.150 [1]. The law bans drinking alcohol while driving in a motor vehicle. It also makes it illegal to have an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle. However, there are exceptions for some commercial transportation vehicles. A violation of Nevada’s open container law is a misdemeanor with enhanced penalties for violations in work zones and pedestrian safety zones.

Can You Have an Open Container in a Car in Las Vegas?

No, you cannot have an open container in a car in Las Vegas. Nevada’s open container law, NRS 484B.150, prohibits drivers and passengers from having open containers of alcoholic beverages in their vehicles.

drinking with an open container at the wheel

However, there is an exception to the passenger area of a vehicle primarily used for the transportation of persons. Therefore, it may be okay to have an open container in a car in Las Vegas if you’re in the passenger area of a limousine, taxi, shuttle bus or motorhome.

Nevada Revised Statutes NRS 484B.150 Open Container of Alcoholic Beverage

Under Nevada Revised Statutes NRS 484B.150, it is unlawful to:

  1. Drink an alcoholic beverage while driving
  2. Drink an alcoholic beverage while in actual, physical control of a motor vehicle (this may cover situations where you’re behind the wheel and the engine is on, but you’re not moving)
  3. Have an open container of alcohol while in the passenger area of a motor vehicle

Exceptions to Open Container Laws for Passenger Transportation Vehicles

There is an important exception in the law for passenger transportation vehicles. Nevada’s open container law covers both drivers and passengers. However, passengers can have open containers in vehicles designed and used primarily for the transportation of people. Vehicles falling within the exception are taxi cabs, motor homes, limousines, shuttles, tour buses and other vehicles that transport people.

Can You Drink in an Uber in Vegas?

No, you cannot drink in an Uber, Lyft or other rideshare services in Las Vegas. Nevada’s open container laws exempt only vehicles that are primarily used to transport individuals for compensation. While an Uber vehicle does that some of the time, it is mainly someone’s personal vehicle. Therefore, it doesn’t fall within the exceptions of Nevada’s open container laws for commercial transportation vehicles. Drinking in an Uber in Las Vegas is a violation of Nevada’s open container laws.

Riding in Uber Before Car Accident

Nevada Penalty for Open Container While Driving

The Nevada penalty for open container while driving is up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. There may be added penalties for violations in work zones and pedestrian safety areas. In addition to these penalties for open containers while driving, a violation is a misdemeanor that appears on the individual’s criminal history.

Is an Empty Beer Can an Open Container?

No, an empty beer can is not an open container. An open container must contain an alcoholic beverage. When a beer can is empty, it no longer contains any liquid. At that point, it’s just waste or, in some states, recyclable for a small refund. If you receive an open container citation for an empty beer can, the officer made a mistake.

Be sure to assert your rights to challenge the ticket and preserve any evidence, like photos or video of the traffic stop, that may exist to help prove that the beer can was empty at the time of your driving.

Is a Solo Cup an Open Container?

Yes, a solo cup or any other cup containing alcohol is an open container. An open container, as defined in NRS 484B.150, is any container with a broken seal. Of course, a solo cup doesn’t even have a lid, let alone a seal. If you drink alcohol out of a Solo cup or any other cup while in a moving vehicle, you are drinking out of an open container and violating the law.

Red Solo Cup

Which Vehicles Do Not Apply to Nevada’s Open Container Law?

The following vehicles do not apply to Nevada’s open container law:

  • Shuttle buses
  • Limousines
  • Town cars for commercial transportation
  • Tour buses
  • Taxi cabs
  • Motor homes
  • House coaches
  • Trollies

A vehicle does not apply to Nevada’s open container law if it is designed, maintained, or used primarily to transport persons for compensation. Although some rideshare vehicles may be mainly used for commercial transport purposes, it may be difficult for a passenger to prove it if they receive a citation.

Although you can legally drink from an open container in these vehicles in Nevada, individual transportation companies may ask you to refrain from eating or drinking in the vehicle as a courtesy. However, you are not legally bound to that request.

What Is an Alcoholic Beverage for Nevada’s Open Container Laws?

An alcoholic beverage for Nevada’s open container law is any alcoholic beverage that is at least .5% alcohol. That is one-half of one percent alcohol. All distilled spirits are alcoholic beverages. The definition of alcoholic beverage for Nevada’s open container laws is found in NRS 484B.150.

Is Open Container the Same As DUI?

No, an open container is not the same as DUI. DUI is driving while under the influence of alcohol or driving while having a bodily alcohol content over the legal limit. It has to do with how much alcohol is in your system and its influence on you.

On the other hand, open container has to do with having alcohol on your person while you drive. A person having an open container may not have any bodily alcohol content. A DUI is what the person has consumed, while an open container is what they have in their possession.

Being pulled over with an open container in Nevada

Open Container in a Car

An open container in a car is a violation of Nevada law. Both drivers and passengers may face an accusation of open container. It may also be an example of negligence if an accident results. A person who faces an open container violation has a right to contest the ticket.

Nevada law generally prohibits drivers and passengers from having open containers. That means drinking alcohol while driving or having alcohol with a broken seal in the vehicle. However, there are important exceptions for certain types of commercial transportation vehicles.

Car Accidents and Open Container Laws

If you’re the victim of a car accident, be sure to investigate whether an open container may have contributed to the crash. A car accident personal injury attorney can help you examine your case and assert your rights. Contact the team at Adam S. Kutner, Injury Attorneys, to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.

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Sources:

[1] NRS 484B.150