Skip to content
Blogs & Articles

Get Sound Legal Advice and Insights from Our Legal Team.

a woman holding a glass of wine

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car?

You and your friends go out for the evening, and they drink and you stick with coffee. You’re the designated driver, after all, and you take the job seriously.

But one of your buddies sneaks a beer out of the last bar. It’s literally “one for the road,” the last drink on the way home. You don’t take any, so no crime, no foul–right?

Not so fast.

Be very careful about drinking and driving, even if the driver isn’t the one doing the drinking.

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car?

In Michigan, you and your bud with the Bud have both broken the law. The state is one of 40, along with the District of Columbia, that forbids the presence of open alcoholic beverage containers in the passenger area of vehicles. They must be kept in the trunk. If you have no trunk, store open containers in a locked glove compartment or other area inaccessible to anyone in the vehicle.

What are the Consequences for Passengers Drinking Alcohol in Cars?

In the above scenario, you’re the driver and you haven’t touched a drop, but you’re still subject to a misdemeanor charge if pulled over. So are your passengers. The offense could result in fines of as much as $500 and up to about three months in jail. The penalties could escalate from there if you have, in fact, been drinking with your friends, and you’re found to be an impaired driver.

Are There Any Exceptions to Passengers Having Alcohol in the Car?

The only exception to open carry laws in Michigan are if you’re licensed to drive a limo, entertainment bus or similar chartered commercial vehicle in which your passengers can legally drink. Unless your responsibilities are in this narrow area, and you have proper licensing for it, do NOT let your passengers crack one open. The party ends once the final tab is paid and your car heads for home.

Work with an Experienced Defense Attorney for Your Case

As a driver, you have a responsibility to be sober and focused on driving. It is also your responsibility to make sure no one else in the car has drinks open. If you get a ticket or arrested with an open container of alcohol in your car, call the legal experts at Aldrich Legal Services. Our team will bring more than 21 years of experience to your case to get you the best outcome possible.