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What Is the Minnesota Open Bottle Law?

The Minnesota Open Bottle Law deals with open containers containing alcohol.  The open bottle law makes it illegal to possess an open container under certain circumstances.  The Minnesota open bottle law, according to Minnesota Statute § 169A.35 subd. 1(4) states that possession of an alcoholic beverage or distilled spirits means having actual possession of the bottle or container or consciously having dominion over that bottle or container. The beverage has to contain a certain percentage of malt liquor (3.2%), be an alcoholic beverage, or be a distilled spirit.

Malt Liquor

Minnesota Statute Section 340A.101 subdivision 19 defines the 3.2% malt liquor rule. It means that the beverage is a malt liquor that contains no more than ½ of 1% alcohol by volume (milliliters of alcohol by 100 milliliters of beverage). In other words, the beverage cannot contain more than 3.2% malt liquor. If it does, you can be charged with having an open bottle. If you have been charged with having an open container of an alcoholic beverage containing at least 3.2% malt liquor or any other type of alcoholic beverage, you need to consult with your MN DWI lawyer as soon as possible to address the charges.

Drinking And Consumption

You can be charged if an open container of an alcoholic beverage, 3.2% malt liquor, or distilled spirit is inside a motor vehicle that is also upon a highway or a street. Even being in possession of a bottle with a broken seal while inside a motor vehicle is considered a violation of the Open Bottle Law. If the arresting officer notices the seal is broken and some of the contents are missing, a charge against you can result.

If you are found guilty of consuming the beverage while in a motor vehicle on a roadway or simply having a bottle with a broken seal present in the vehicle, you will be convicted of a misdemeanor. Fortunately, there are ways in which your Minnesota DWI lawyer can challenge the charges against you so that a conviction does not occur or so you can receive a more favorable outcome in your case.


There are exceptions in these cases. According to Statute 169A.35 subdivision 6, passengers in a bus that is operated by a motor carrier of passengers, a commercial vehicle that is operated as a bicycle with five or more passengers providing pedal power, a limousine service, or beverages in the trunk or compartment not occupied by passengers and the driver will not be in violation of the Open Bottle Law. A glove compartment or other compartment that is in the area occupied by the driver and passengers will still result in a charge if the beverages are kept in those areas.

Contact Minnesota DWI Attorney F. T. Sessoms:

If you have been charged with having an open bottle or container containing an alcoholic beverage, it is your right to challenge the charges against you. MN DWI Attorney F.T. Sessoms can help you fight these charges! Call today at 612-344-1505 to learn about your options.