Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Open Containers in Motor Vehicle Charges in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa OWI/Traffic Law » Open Containers in Motor Vehicle Charges in Iowa

Under Iowa Code Section 321.284, it is unlawful to have an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle:


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A driver of a motor vehicle upon a public street or highway shall not possess in the passenger area of the motor vehicle an open or unsealed bottle, can, jar, or other receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage. “Passenger area” means 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 their seating positions, including the glove compartment. An open or unsealed receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage may be transported in the trunk of the motor vehicle. An unsealed receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage may be transported behind the last upright seat of the motor vehicle if the motor vehicle does not have a trunk. A person convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under section 805.8A, subsection 14, paragraph “e”.

An open container charge in Iowa is a simple misdemeanor, which means it carries up to 30 days in the county jail.  Open container violations can also be handled as scheduled violations only, meaning a fine only.  For those who are under 21 years old, there can be charges for being a minor in possession of alcohol as well.


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