What Are Montana’s Open Container Laws? Do You Know?
Montana is one of the few states that still allows some degree of open containers—but there are plenty of rules and regulations restricting open container use. So what are the official laws? Here's what we found.
Montana has some wacky laws that range from slightly odd to outright bizarre. One Montana law that surprises folks, whether they are visiting or have recently moved to the state, is that open container use still exists here in Montana.
What an open-container law deals with is open cans or bottles of alcohol. These laws typically dictate where they can be open and in what context. When digging into Montana's open-container laws, we found some interesting facts.
According to Montana Ordinance 61-8-1026, if you are in a motor vehicle, the driver is not allowed to have an open container of alcohol in their possession at any point. If you have an open alcoholic beverage, you could be punished with a fine of up to $100.
The Montana Open Container Law also states that passengers in the vehicle are allowed to have open containers—but only in certain situations. If you're in the back of a camper, party bus, or limo, open containers are typically allowed and perfectly legal. If you're a DD driving friends around in your car, however, open containers aren't legal. You must be either in hired transportation(the company of which allows such practices) or in the living quarters of a camper or motor home. Additionally, some Montana cities allow open containers on public streets—it just depends on your location.
You might think this restriction on open containers in vehicles was introduced back in the 1980s, but the Montana Open Container Law didn't become official until 2005. It was enacted because between 2002 and 2003, Montana had the highest alcohol-related fatality rate in the nation. Montana decided they needed to make a change in order to decrease consumption of alcohol in vehicles.
Since the law was put in place, alcohol-related fatalities have dropped rapidly. Nonetheless, it's wild to think that this law isn't even 20 years old, and that open containers are still allowed in the state.
If you go to Music on Main here in Bozeman, St. Patrick's Day in Butte, and a few other places in Montana, open containers in public are still allowed as well.
If you want to learn more about Montana's open container law, check out the Montana Constitution.