Montana Department of Transportation

Malcolm “Mack” Long, Director


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Montana's Open Container Law

Effective October 1, 2005

Montana has the highest record of alcohol related fatalities in the nation. Montana's ban on open containers is an important step in reducing those fatalities and making our roadways safer for the traveling public.

drinking while driving

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an open alcoholic beverage container?
A bottle, can, jar, or other receptacle that contains any amount of an alcoholic beverage that is open or has a broken seal or the contents of which are partially removed or are immediately capable of being consumed.
What is the major purpose of the law?
The law prohibits unlawful possession of an open alcoholic beverage container by a person in a motor vehicle on a highway. Montana had the highest rate of alcohol related fatalities per vehicle mile traveled in the nation in 2002 and 2003 as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The open container law helps provide the message that it is not okay to drink and drive in Montana.
Who gets the ticket?
The person in possession of the open container.
A friend of mine said that there was an exception to this law if the open container was in the locked glove compartment. Is this true?
Yes, an open container can be stored in a locked glove compartment.
Does this law allow a person to have an open alcoholic beverage container on a bus or taxi?
Yes, as long as the operator is a hired driver and has met the legal requirements of other public laws such as licensing requirements and local open container ordinances.
What about motor homes? Are open containers allowed?
Yes, in the living quarters of a camper, travel trailer, or motor home, the law allows a person to have an open alcoholic container.
What about open alcoholic beverage containers at a tailgate party?
This is permissible as long as it is not on a public highway and meets all other legal requirements such as local open container ordinances.
Does this new law have a fine for violating it as well?
Yes, a person convicted of the offense of unlawful possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a motor vehicle shall be fined an amount not to exceed $100.