What you need to know about Wisconsin’s open container law

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2020 | Firm News

Like with most other places, Wisconsin law prohibits the possession of open containers of alcohol. During these uncertain economic times, though, some Wisconsin bar and restaurant owners have started offering carry-out libations. 

Before picking up a to-go booze order, you should understand Wisconsin’s open container law. After all, violating the law may expose you to significant legal penalties. 

What is an open container?

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle on a public roadway. For a container to be open, it must have one of the following characteristics: 

  • No container closure 
  • A broken container seal 
  • Some missing container contents 

Where are open containers off limits?

It is possible to transport an open container without running afoul of state law. If you keep your open booze out of the spaces drivers and passengers typically occupy, you are likely fine. 

For example, you can probably safely transport an open container in your vehicle’s trunk. The glove box and other cabin compartments are typically off limits, however. 

What other legal exposure may you have?

Even though transporting an open container is enough to land you in legal jeopardy, you may have additional exposure. That is, if you have an open container in your car, an officer may suspect you are operating a vehicle while impaired. 

This suspicion may subject you to additional scrutiny, such as a requested field sobriety or breath test. To limit your legal exposure, you must be certain to comply with Wisconsin’s open container law.