Nevada open container law prohibits drivers and passengers from having open containers of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle – even if none of them is drinking. The one exception is the passenger area of limos and party buses if there is a partition behind the driver.
Open containers comprise bottles or cans with a broken seals as well as solo cups or glasses.
It is legal to walk on the Las Vegas strip and Downtown with an open container as long as you are at least 21 years of age, and the drink is in a plastic cup, paper cup or aluminum container.
1. Can you drink alcohol in public in Nevada?
Nevada state law does not prohibit drinking in public and public intoxication (NRS 258.260) is not a crime anywhere in Nevada.
However, local law rather than state law regulates drinking from open containers. Various cities have their own laws about where public consumption may be prohibited – such as on certain streets or parks.
2. Can you walk around with an open container in Nevada?
It is lawful in Nevada for adults at least 21 years old to walk around with an open container of alcohol. But many cities and counties have rules prohibiting open containers within 1,000 feet of certain locations. Some of these local ordinances forbid glass and aluminum containers.
3. Can you walk around with open containers in Vegas?
It is generally legal for adults 21 and older to consume alcohol outside on Las Vegas sidewalks. The laws for drinking on the Strip differ slightly from those for Downtown and Fremont Street.
3.1. 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). Clark County also makes it illegal to drink at public parks unless there is a special event with the proper permits.2
Violating open container laws in unincorporated Clark County is a misdemeanor, carrying $250, and/or 30 days of jail time.3
3.2. 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
- liquor store,
- homeless shelter, or
- bus stop.7
An open container violation in incorporated Las Vegas is a misdemeanor, carrying a $640 fine.8
4. 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
5. Can you have an open container in a car?
NRS 484B.150 makes it a Nevada crime for a driver or passenger to have open containers of alcohol anywhere in the motor vehicle (except in non-passenger areas such as the trunk). It does not matter if the open container is out of reach of anyone in the car, if no one is drinking, or if the driver has a zero blood alcohol content (BAC).
People cited for having an open container in an automobile should not ignore their ticket. If they fail to appear in court or pay the fine, the judge may issue a bench warrant for their arrest. Judges usually waive defendants’ court appearances as long as they have a private attorney appearing for them.
6. Can you drink while driving in Nevada?
NRS 484B.150 makes it a misdemeanor to drink alcohol while driving. It does not matter if the driver is sober or just taking a sip.
Operating an automobile with an open container is a misdemeanor in Nevada, punishable by
- up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, and
- five demerit points added by the Nevada DMV to the defendant’s license.10
The sentence and penalties get doubled if the vehicle was in a work zone or pedestrian safety zone. Plus the court can order up to 120 hours of community service.11
When police at DUI checkpoints see an open container in the vehicle, they will not only issue a citation for the open container. They will make the driver get out and perform field sobriety tests (breath test and sometimes blood test) in an effort to find enough probable cause to arrest him/her for DUI – driving under the influence of alcohol.
An open container violation is a separate crime from DUI. Sober drivers typically just get cited for having an open container in their car. Meanwhile, drunk drivers are always arrested for DUI whether or not there is alcohol in their vehicle at all. (Driving is per se illegal if the driver has a BAC of 0.08% or higher.)
7. Can passengers drink alcohol in a car in Las Vegas?
Passengers in the living quarters of a house coach or house trailer in Las Vegas may have open containers of alcohol. Although open containers are prohibited on public transportation, open containers are permitted in the passenger areas of commercial transportation vehicles like:
- town cars,
- tour buses,
- chartered “party buses” and RV buses, and
In Las Vegas, there must be a partition between the driver’s seat and the 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 of person, even if that is what their owners primarily use them for.13
Note that the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) buses have a “no open container” policy14 and operators of pedicabs in unincorporated Clark County may not permit open containers in their rickshaws.15
8. 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
- a can of beer where the tab has been opened
- a “solo cup” with beer pumped from a keg
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. (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
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
9. 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;
- The beverage in the container was non-alcoholic;
- The alcohol was not in the passenger area of the automobile; and/or
- The automobile was a commercial vehicle, and the open containers were out of reach from the driver.
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
10. How soon can I get a record sealed?
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.
11. 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.
12. What if I get into a car accident while having an open container?
Nevada police who see an open container in any vehicle involved in a collision will likely suspect that the driver was under the influence. Depending on the case, the driver may be subject to field sobriety tests. DUI is typically a misdemeanor, but it can be prosecuted as a felony if someone gets seriously injured or killed. Learn more about Nevada DUI penalties.
Drivers in accidents may also face personal injury lawsuits for driving with an open container of alcoholic beverages. The injured parties may try to argue that the driver was negligent by having an open container and that the driver’s distractedness or intoxication caused the crash. The at-fault driver may be on the hook to pay for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Arrested in California? Go to Vehicle Code Sections 23221 – 23229 VC.
Arrested in Colorado? Go to Colorado public consumption of alcohol laws.
Disclaimer: Results cannot be guaranteed.
- Clark County Code (CCC) 12.43.025; Shine, Conor, “Glass bottles no longer allowed on Strip,” Review-Journal (Sept. 16, 2014). NRS 202.015 defines alcohol as “1. Beer, ale, porter, stout and other similar fermented beverages, including sake and similar products, of any name or description containing one-half of 1 percent or more alcohol by volume, brewed or produced from malt, wholly or in part, or from any substitute therefor. 2. Any beverage obtained by the fermentation of the natural content of fruits or other agricultural products containing sugar, of not less than one-half of 1 percent of alcohol by volume. 3. Any distilled spirits commonly referred to as ethyl alcohol, ethanol or spirits of wine in any form, including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever process produced.”
- CCC 12.35.010; CCC 19.04.030.
- 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 10.84.020.
- 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, for example 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