Drunk driving is extremely dangerous, which is why there are so many laws that try to combat it. Interestingly, Missouri is one of only a few states that allow those who are not driving to possess open containers of alcohol inside their vehicles.
Keep in mind that your municipality or local area may have its own open container laws, so even if the state approves, you could be out of luck locally.
Missouri’s law allows anyone who is 21 or older and a passenger in a vehicle to possess open containers of alcohol. Drivers are still not allowed to drink and drive or possess open containers.
Since 2000, the state of Missouri has been paying fines as a result of its decision to allow passengers to drink in vehicles. This is because of the Transportation Equity Act, which requires any state that allows open containers of alcohol in moving vehicles to spend 3% of the funds given to them to use on highway construction for safety initiatives instead. In 2016, Missouri’s fine was approximately $21.4 million, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Interestingly, an engineer for the state stated that the penalty actually does good in the state. It means that money is diverted from fixing the roads to other safety needs, like installing median guard cables and installing rumble strips on the shoulders of the highway.
Regardless of the way the state stands on the issue of passengers having open containers, drivers cannot. If you’re stopped and have multiple people in your vehicle with open containers, you could still be accused and may want to seek help with your defense.