Last year, Arizona, like many states, made it legal for bars and restaurants to allow customers to include alcoholic beverages in their to-go and delivery orders. This was an effort to help these struggling businesses.
This May, the Arizona legislature passed and Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law that allows that practice to continue through 2025. The new law takes effect on Oct. 1 of this year, but takeout alcohol can continue for some establishments in the meantime.
The law in part codifies what kind of licensing and leasing agreements are required for various types of establishments to provide alcohol for takeout or delivery. Establishments also need to sell these beverages only in sealed containers – whether it’s a bottle of wine or a margarita to go.
What does Arizona law say about open containers?
The ability to add alcohol to a takeout order does not change Arizona’s law regarding having alcoholic beverages in your car. These are often called “open container” laws. Arizona law refers to “spirituous liquor in motor vehicles.”
The law, which does refer to open containers, defines it as any container containing alcohol “that has been opened, has had its seal broken or the contents of which have been partially removed.”
An open container cannot be in the “passenger compartment” of a vehicle. That includes an unlocked glove compartment or any unlocked portable devices like coolers or bags that are within reach of anyone in the vehicle.
Even if an alcoholic beverage is in a sealed container, it’s safest to put it in the trunk of the car until you reach your destination. This way, there’s no question about whether you’re illegally carrying an open container, and there’s less temptation for anyone to break it open while you’re still driving. That could lead to DUI charges, which can be particularly serious.
What to do when you’re facing charges?
If you’re facing DUI, open container or other alcohol-related charges, you need to take them seriously because they can have a long-lasting impact on your life. With legal guidance, you can protect your rights and have a better chance of mitigating the effect of the arrest on your future.