Nevada open container laws prohibit both drivers and passengers from having open alcohol containers of alcohol in the passenger compartments of a vehicle. There is an exception in Las Vegas, where open containers are permitted in the passenger areas of limos or taxis that are partitioned from the driver.
Pedestrians are generally permitted to walk with open containers on the Strip and Downtown.
1. Can you drink alcohol in public in Las Vegas?
Yes, it is generally legal for adults 21 and older to consume alcohol outside on Las Vegas sidewalks. And public intoxication (NRS 258.260) is not a crime anywhere Nevada.
Local law rather than state law regulates drinking from open containers. That is why the laws for drinking on the Strip differ slightly than those for Downtown and Fremont Street.
1.1. Drinking on the Strip
It is legal for pedestrians to carry open containers of alcohol on the Las Vegas Strip as long as they are in plastic cups, paper cups, or aluminum containers. Glass beverage containers are always forbidden, even if they contain non-alcoholic drinks.1
The Strip is a part of unincorporated Clark County, which expands across the towns of Winchester and Paradise. Throughout unincorporated Clark County, pedestrians may not carry an open alcohol container in parking lots or within 1,000 feet of where they purchased the alcohol in a closed container (such as a package store).2
Violating open container laws in unincorporated Clark County is a misdemeanor, carrying $250, and/or 30 days of jail time.3
1.2. Drinking Downtown and on Fremont Street
Pedestrians can drink outside in Downtown Las Vegas as long as the alcohol was bought at one of the large casinos that have “tavern licenses.”4 Most of the bars and restaurants downtown have “tavern-limited licenses,” which means they cannot let their liquor off the premises.5 Open aluminum cans and glass containers are forbidden on the Fremont Street Experience.6
Downtown and Fremont Street are part of the incorporated City of Las Vegas. The open container laws are a little more restrictive than in the rest of Clark County: It is illegal to carry an open container within 1,000 feet of a church, liquor store, school, hospital, or homeless shelter.7
An open container violation in incorporated Las Vegas is a misdemeanor, carrying a $640 fine.8
2. Can you bring drinks into casinos in Las Vegas?
Yes, there is no law forbidding people from bringing their own alcoholic beverages into Las Vegas casinos. But any open containers should be paper or plastic – not glass.9
3. Can you have an open container in a car?
NRS 484B.150 makes it a Nevada crime to drive with open containers of alcohol anywhere in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. It does not matter if the container is out of reach of the driver, or if a passenger is holding the container. NRS 484B.150 also prohibits drinking while driving, even if the driver is sober and just taking a sip.
Unlawfully driving a motor vehicle with an open container is a misdemeanor, carrying up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. Penalties could be doubled if the car was in a work zone or pedestrian safety zone.10 And if the defendant is caught drinking alcohol while driving, the Nevada DMV will add five demerit points to the defendant’s license.11
Open containers are permitted in the living quarters of a house coach or house trailer. Open containers are also permitted in the passenger areas of commercial transportation vehicles like limos, town cars, trolleys, tour buses, shuttles, chartered “party buses”, and taxis. Though in Las Vegas, there must be a partition between the driver’s seat and passenger seats.12
Uber and Lyft ride-sharing vehicles fall in a grey area of the law, but the general consensus is that open containers are not allowed in them. This is because Uber and Lyft vehicles were not designed primarily for commercial transportation, even if that is what their owners are primarily using them for.13
Note that the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) buses have a “no open container” policy.14 And operators of pedicabs in unincorporated Clark County may not permit open containers in their rickshaws.15
Also note that an open container violation is a separate crime from DUI – driving under the influence of alcohol. Sober drivers can get cited for having an open container in their car. Meanwhile, drunk drivers are often arrested for DUI with no alcohol in their vehicle at all.
4. How does Nevada law define an open container?
The legal definition of an open container of alcohol is when the can or bottle has been opened or has a broken seal. Examples include:
- a bottle of distilled spirits where the cap has been popped, twisted, or unscrewed,
- a bottle of wine that has been uncorked, and
- a can of beer where the tab has been opened
- a “solo cup” with beer pumped from a keg
Note that an unsealed container of alcohol can never be closed again: It is still considered open if the cap or cork was put back on the container. Even bottles or cans that no longer have any alcohol in them are still considered open. (But if the container is 100% empty, a defense attorney may be able to argue that it is trash and should not count as an open container.)16
Also note that NRS 484B.150 applies to any beverage that is at least .50% alcohol (one-half of one percent alcohol). This includes all distilled liquors, wines, beer, ale, porter, stout and other similar fermented beverages.17
5. How can I fight open container charges?
Potential defenses to criminal charges involving Nevada’s open container laws are:
- The location permitted public drinking;
- The bottle or can was sealed; and/or
- The beverage in the container was non-alcoholic
It is not a defense that the defendant was just carrying the container without drinking from it. Merely possessing an open container under the wrong circumstances is a crime.18
6. How soon can I get a record seal?
An open alcohol container conviction may be sealed one year after the case ends.19 But if the charge gets dismissed, the record may be sealed right away.20 Learn how to seal criminal records in Nevada.
7. What about open containers of marijuana?
Nevada law permits possession of recreational marijuana of up to one ounce, but only in private residences. Consuming marijuana in a public – including in a vehicle – is a misdemeanor carrying a $600 fine.21
Drivers leaving a retail marijuana dispensary are advised to store their marijuana in a sealed bag locked away in the trunk or glove compartment.
Arrested in California? Go to California public drinking laws | Vehicle Code Sections 23221 – 23229 VC.
Arrested in Colorado? Go to Colorado public consumption of alcohol laws.
- Clark County Code (CCC) 12.43.025; Shine, Conor, “Glass bottles no longer allowed on Strip,” Review-Journal (Sept. 16, 2014).
- CCC 12.35.010.
- CCC 12.43.030.
- Las Vegas Municipal Code (LVMC) 6.50.240; see Joe Schoenmann, A guide to downtown Las Vegas’ open container laws, Las Vegas Sun (March 30, 2014).
- LVMC 6.50.250.
- LVMC 10.77.030; Jane Ann Morrison, City council bans glass, aluminum liquor containers at Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas Review-Journal (June 18, 2014).
- LVMC 10.76.010.
- Las Vegas Bail and Fine Schedule Violation 5741. See also Reno’s open container law RMC Sec. 8.12.033.
- See notes 1 and 6.
- Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 484B.150. (The judge may allow community service in lieu of a fine.) NRS 484B.135; NRS 484B.130.
- NAC 483.510(16)(b).
- CCC 12.35.020. LVMC 11.14.070. NRS 484B.150.
- See, e.g. Uber Community Guidelines.
- Passenger Code of Conduct Policy, RTC.
- CCC 7.50.200.
- NRS 484B.150.
- NRS 202.015
- Same. A criminal defense attorney may also be able to argue that law enforcement committed misconduct, such as an illegal police search.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- NRS 453.336