Can you drink alcohol in a car in Idaho while someone else drives? Here’s what the law says

Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, but what is the law regarding passengers in a vehicle with alcohol?

With Labor Day weekend on the horizon, the Idaho Office of Highway Safety has already increased its patrols to crack down on drunk driving. Labor Day marks the end of what the Idaho Transportation Department calls the “100 deadliest days,” when Idaho sees a spike in fatal and serious injury car crashes.

However, what if you’re found drinking alcohol in a car, but your driver has not had a drop? How can you expect an Idaho police officer to react?

Here’s what Idaho law says.

Idaho open container law

According to Title 23, Chapter 5 of the Idaho Statutes, it is illegal in Idaho to have an open container of beer, wine or liquor in a motor vehicle.

“Unlike driving under the influence, open container law applies to drivers even when sober,” Boise-based Trilogy Law Group states on its website.

Open container law exceptions

There are a couple of exceptions to Idaho’s open container law.

  • You can transport an open beer, wine or liquor container as long as it is in your vehicle’s trunk or luggage compartment or behind the last upright seat of a car with no trunk.

  • If the vehicle is designed to primarily be used “for compensation,” such as customers paying to drink on a party bus.

  • If the alcohol is in the living area of a recreational vehicle, such as a camper.

  • It is legal to transport unopened containers of alcohol.

Penalty for violating open container law

Under Idaho law, if an open container of alcohol is found in a moving vehicle, the driver is the individual who receives the punishment. In Idaho, that equates to a misdemeanor conviction resulting in a maximum $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.