The open container law in Maryland governs the transportation and consumption of alcohol in motor vehicles and in public places. An open container is defined as a can, bottle, or other receptacle that is open, has a broken seal, or has had the contents partially removed.
Generally speaking, Maryland has strict open container laws that prohibit the possession of an open container of alcohol in many public places and personal vehicles. While an open container law violation is a misdemeanor offense, the offense will still show up on an individual’s record.
Maryland law clearly states that it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger department of a motor vehicle. Drivers and passengers are prohibited from consuming any amount of alcohol.
However, the law creates an exception for non-drivers in the back of hired vehicles such as taxis, limousines, and buses, as well as in the living areas of motor homes. Driver’s of hired vehicles will not be responsible for the open containers of their passengers.
Only in Mississippi is it legal to operate a motor vehicle while drinking an alcoholic beverage. Ten other states lack open container laws and won’t stop someone from driving with an open container in their cupholder, however it is still illegal to consume the alcoholic beverage. Delaware is one of the ten states.
In Delaware, the passengers in a motor vehicle can legal consume alcohol while riding in a motor vehicle. In Virginia, the laws are much stricter, and an individual can be charged with an open container violation for having an open container in their vehicle. Open containers are also prohibited, both in motor vehicles and on the street, in Washington, DC.
Yes. The law states that you cannot have an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. The “passenger area” does not include the trunk, a locked glove compartment, or the area behind the rearmost upright seat if the motor vehicle does not have a trunk.
It is important to note that partially consumed bottles of wine are considered open containers. For example, if a customer purchases a bottle of wine at licensed establishment but does not finish the bottle, they may wish to take it home.
They are permitted to carry the partially finished bottle to their motor vehicle (as long as it is capped) and place it in a non-passenger area of their car.
Alcohol may be possessed or consumed by an underage person in a few circumstances. If the underage person is employed at a licensed establishment that serves alcohol then they may possess, but not consume, alcohol at their place of employment.
An underage person may consume alcohol in a private residence as long as it is permitted by a member of her person’s immediate family, such as a parent. Finally, alcohol may be consumed by an underage person as a part of a religious ceremony.
Unfortunately, there are no cities that permit open containers of alcohol in public spaces unless there is an approved special event occurring. While most people would like to walk around with alcohol Ocean City, the beach town has a strict city code.
As of a few years ago an open container citation in Ocean City is now a jailable offense with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. Police officers can arrest a person for having a beer on the street or a glass of wine on the beach or boardwalk. Police officers in Ocean City are trained to identify patrons who are consuming alcohol in public.
Maryland liquor sale laws vary drastically by county. Baltimore County and Garrett County prohibit Sunday liquor sales, whereas all the other counties permit Sunday morning through afternoon sales.
In Prince George’s County beer and wine can be purchased at the grocery store. In St. Mary’s County, Talbot County, Wicomico County, and Worcester County, all kinds of alcohol can be purchased in grocery stores. In most counties, off-premises liquor stores can be open as late as 2:00 am Monday through Saturday.
In some counties, such as Montgomery beer and wine can be purchased until 1:00 am but spirt sales stop at 10:00pm.
An open container violation in Maryland is a misdemeanor offense. Misdemeanor offenses usually only result in a fine (fines vary by county), but can depend on the situation and whether an individuals has any prior offenses.
Regardless, a misdemeanor offense will show up on a public record. The offense will be visible in the online judiciary case search. An open container violation is not a traffic violation, so the conviction will not result in points being added to an individual’s license.
Police may use a suspected open container violation as a suspected DUI stop. For example, if a police officer were to see a red plastic cup sitting in the console between the driver and the passenger the officer may be able to use that as evidence to pull the driver offer and observe the driver’s behavior and whether or not they smell like alcohol. A DUI or a DWI is a much more serious offense than an open container violation.