OPEN CONTAINER
LAWS AND DUI

Drinking on a Public Street

Be careful unless you are on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Las Vegas Strip

Generally, it is lawful to walk the Las Vegas Strip carrying alcohol in open containers of either aluminum, plastic, or paper. It is illegal to walk the Las Vegas Strip with a glass container regardless of whether it holds an alcoholic beverage or not.

Downtown Las Vegas (Fremont Street Experience, the Arts District and Fremont East District)

Generally, carrying alcohol in a plastic container in the Fremont Street Experience area is legal if the drink was bought from one of the casinos there. These large casinos carry “tavern licenses,” which permit its liquor to be taken off-premises. You might want to keep the receipt as proof to show the police in case you are asked.

Nearly everywhere near the Fremont East District and Downtown Arts District is off-limits for possessing an open container of packaged liquor.

Drinking Alcohol in an Automobile

Do not have an open alcoholic beverage in an automobile unless you are in a taxi, limo or other commercial vehicle and the driver expressly permits you. With very few exceptions, it is illegal in Las Vegas to have an open alcoholic beverage in a car while on a road or highway. Nevada law generally permits open containers in cabs, limos, shuttles, or buses used primarily for the transportation of people for a fare.

Unlawfully having an open container of alcohol in a car in Nevada is a misdemeanor. The penalty can be up to 6 months in jail, and/or up-to $1,000 in fines.

Being Drunk in Public

Party – but be smart. Not surprisingly, you can be drunk in public in Las Vegas! Well, sort of. It is not illegal to be drunk in public, but you may find yourself charged with, among other things: 1) trespass, 2) disturbing the peace, 3) DUI, 4) boating under the influence or 5) violating open container laws. Again, remember to know when enough is enough.

Driving Under the Influence – Over 21 Years of Age

DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE IN LAS VEGAS.

It is never acceptable, or worth it, to drink and drive in Las Vegas, especially when it is so easy to get around by taxi, limo, Uber, or Lyft.

The State of Nevada prohibits driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above. The .08 BAC standard is the measurement used across the United States for an “impaired” driver. Nevada has lower limits for drivers under the age of 21 and commercial drivers.

It is difficult to determine the exact number of drinks for a driver to reach the .08 limit. Each person’s physical characteristics such as weight, sex, and body type play a role in the BAC equation. Additionally, the type of alcoholic beverage, the length of time between drinks, and other factors such as whether you have eaten will affect your BAC. As such, the best rule of thumb is simply not to drink and drive in Las Vegas.

Your first drunk driving conviction in Nevada will cost you between $400 and $1,000. You may go to jail for up to 6 months and be required to perform community service. Your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days. After 45 days of your driver’s license suspension, the court may allow you to drive with a restricted license for the remainder of your sentence. You will also be ordered to attend a DUI school at your own expense and may also be ordered to attend an alcohol treatment program if your BAC was .08 or above. The penalties for a second or third offense get substantially harsher.

Driving Under the Influence – Under 21 Years of Age

DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE IN LAS VEGAS. EVER. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE UNDER 21.

If you are under 21 years old, it is illegal to drive in Nevada with a BAC of .02 or higher. This essentially means that if you drink any alcohol and then drive, you can be arrested for DUI. In addition to criminal prosecution and a driver’s license suspension, you could even be suspended from school.

The punishment if you are under 21 is largely the same as it is for adults (see above), but may also include submitting to an alcohol and drug evaluation to determine whether you have a substance abuse problem. NRS 484C.350

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

DO NOT OPERATE A BOAT UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL IN NEVADA.

Whether you’re driving a boat on the lake in front of the Bellagio or take the short 45-minute drive from Las Vegas to Lake Mead, do not drink and drive while operating a boat. Nevada’s BUI laws are similar to its DUI laws but remember federal law also applies out at Lake Mead and BUI is also illegal under federal law. Park Rangers at Lake Mead take this issue very seriously.

The legal definition of boating under the influence in Nevada is “to operate or be in actual physical control of a vessel under power or sale on the waters of this State” while being either drunk, high, or having a BAC of at least 0.08. NRS 400.410; NRS 400.450.

Please don’t ruin your boating vacation!

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Copyright 2021 – TLIP Ventures, LLC d/b/a Tourist Lawyers, 10161 Park Run Drive, Suite 150, Las Vegas, Nevada 89145

Christopher D. Kircher, Esq., licensed to practice law only in the State of Nevada