Man drinking an open container of alcohol in Illinois

NOTE: This article contains new materials to explore the impact of Public Act 101-517. Once this Act became law on August 23, 2019, the Liquor Control Act includes an additional exception to the laws against transportation of open alcohol containers.

Transportation of an open container of alcohol in Illinois is a petty offense punishable by fine only. Most petty offenses in the Illinois Vehicle Code have a maximum fine of $1,000.

The offense is governed by 625 ILCS 5/11-502. The statute provides that it is unlawful to transport, carry, or possess any alcoholic liquor within the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle – unless the alcohol is in the original container with an unbroken seal.

Before Public Act 101-517 took effect in 2019, the only exception involved limos and chartered buses. In these cases, the passengers but not the driver may have open containers. Moving forward, another exception enables restaurants and wineries to reseal wine bottles for customers to take home.

A ticket for transportation of an open container of alcoholic liquor that results in a conviction may lead to driver’s license suspension. The rule is, for drivers who are at least 21 years old, two convictions within a one-year period results in a suspension.

Illinois has a Zero Tolerance Law for underage drivers. If the driver under 21 years old, then two issues arise: 1) possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor results in a Zero Tolerance Suspension; and 2) a ticket for transportation of an open container of alcohol may result in driver’s license revocation.

For minors under 21 years old, two convictions for transportation of an open container of alcohol will result in driver’s license revocation.