Navigating Open Container Laws in New Orleans: Public Drinking and Riding with Libations
New Orleans, renowned for its vibrant culture and lively atmosphere, often leaves visitors wondering about the legality of public drinking. Understanding the nuances of open container laws is crucial for those looking to enjoy a stroll through the French Quarter with a beverage in hand or considering taking a road trip through the city. In this blog post, we explore the regulations surrounding public drinking in New Orleans and shed light on whether you can ride in a car with an open container.
Can You Really Drink Alcohol in Public or on Bourbon Street in New Orleans?
In the city where music fills the air and festivities are a way of life, it might come as a surprise that there are specific regulations governing public drinking. According to La. R.S. 26:90, it is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to individuals under the age of 21 or those who are already intoxicated.
However, the New Orleans Municipal Code, specifically Sec. 54-404, brings a unique twist to the story. In the iconic French Quarter, individuals are allowed to carry an open container of alcohol on public streets, sidewalks, parks, or public rights-of-way. The only condition is that the container cannot be an opened glass container. So, feel free to enjoy your favorite beverage in a plastic go-cup or bottle as you explore the lively streets of the French Quarter.
Open Container Laws in Vehicles:
While the French Quarter offers a liberal stance on public drinking, the state of Louisiana has strict open container laws, especially when it comes to vehicles. La. R.S. 32:300(A) explicitly makes it unlawful for the operator or passenger of a motor vehicle to possess an open alcoholic beverage container or consume alcohol in the passenger area while the vehicle is in operation on a public highway or right-of-way.
An “open alcoholic beverage container” is defined by La. R.S. 32:300(B)(3)(a) as any bottle, can, or receptacle with open or broken seals, or partially removed contents. This law is not exclusive to New Orleans but applies statewide.
Exceptions and Limitations:
Despite the stringent regulations, there is one exception to the rule. Open containers of alcohol can be transported in a motor vehicle if placed in a locked glove compartment or behind the last upright seat, or any area not typically occupied by the driver or passengers, particularly in vehicles without a trunk.
Navigating the open container laws in New Orleans requires a clear understanding of both municipal and state regulations. While the French Quarter embraces public drinking within specified limits, taking that experience into a vehicle demands adherence to stricter guidelines. As always, it’s crucial to enjoy the festivities responsibly and be aware of the legal boundaries to ensure a memorable and trouble-free experience in the Crescent City.
This information is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. For specific legal guidance related to your situation and compliance with federal, Louisiana, and local laws, consult with a qualified attorney. The information provided is based on statutes as of September 28, 2021, and may be subject to change.
Just to note, your Nola Bike Bar Driver is sober and does NOT drink during the tour.
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