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Ohio relaxes open container laws

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2021 | DUI / OVI

New open container laws in the state of Ohio allow diners to lawfully purchase to-go cocktails from restaurants. Lawmakers approved the law in an attempt to help restaurant owners increase their revenue. As a consumer, there are some important things you need to know about Ohio’s new open container laws.

What is the new Ohio open container law?

Effective Sept. 30, 2021, restaurant goers may now purchase to-go cocktails from licensed restaurants in certain circumstances. The beverage must come in a sealed and closed container, and the buyer must also purchase a meal at the same time. They may buy up to three drinks per customer. In addition to the new open container laws, there are several other exceptions in the law that create circumstances where open containers are legal.

Can you drink a to-go cocktail in the vehicle?

Even though Ohio law allows the purchase of to-go cocktails, it is illegal to drink the beverage in the vehicle. Not even a passenger can take a sip on the way home. There is no rule for where to store the drinks in transit, but the drinks must stay in their original containers and remain sealed.

DUI and OVI laws still apply. If law enforcement suspects that a driver is intoxicated or over the legal limit, they may use the presence of alcohol in the vehicle as evidence for DUI or OVI charges. Violation of the open container law may result in a sentence of up to 30 days in jail, a fine and probation.

Understanding Ohio’s open container laws

Ohio’s new open container laws make it easier to enjoy your favorite restaurant cocktail. However, there are important rules and restrictions to understand. A person facing charges has a right to a trial. They may call witnesses and present a defense against the charges.