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Ask Trooper Steve: Can I have takeout alcohol in my car?

Trooper Steve answers viewer questions

ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero answers viewer questions about the rules of the road, helping Orlando-area residents become better drivers by being better educated.

Today’s question is very timely amid the coronavirus pandemic: “With to-go food services in play pretty much everywhere right now, can I travel with alcohol in my car?”

Trooper Steve said even though we are in a pandemic, there are no exemptions to traffic laws. Florida Statute 316.1936 addresses the possession of open containers of alcohol beverages in vehicles.

“The statute linked above identifies what the term ‘open container’ means and provides definitions for ‘roadway’ and ‘highways,’" Trooper Steve said. “Simply put, the alcohol container must be sealed and out of immediate reach of any of the occupants of the vehicle.”

For example, if you are making a run to a restaurant to pick up your to-go order and you’ve purchased an alcoholic beverage, it must not be in direct or immediate reach of you at any time while you are operating the car, Trooper Steve said.

“When you order that mixed drink or pitcher from a restaurant, it can’t just come in a cup with a plastic cover on it,” he said. “The mixers must be in a separate container and the alcohol portion must be in its own sealed container. By sealed container, I mean its original packaging."

Trooper Steve said the same rule also applies to an open wine bottle.

“Before leaving a tasting or a wine store, the wine bottle must be resealed by a professional,” he said. "My suggestion is to invest in a small box or container and place it securely inside your vehicle. With that, you have a place to put your food so it’s not moving around inside your car and you have completely eliminated any direct contact with any alcohol beverage, whether it’s opened or closed.

Remember, if the container has been opened, simply place it in the trunk and you’ve eliminated any legal issues, he said.

Be safe!


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