1) No open containers in public places
You cannot drink alcohol in public streets, highways, or sidewalks. Open container laws in Iowa prohibit a person from consuming alcohol in most public places except a business that is covered by a liquor license such as a restaurant or bar. You can consume alcohol in public parks – however, it can be only beer or wine. Hard alcohol is not allowed
2) No open containers in apartment common spaces
Although living in an apartment may seem like an opportunity to drink socially with the neighbors, gatherings must be kept to the private residence or a private balcony. If a person lives in an apartment building, they cannot drink on the front steps or in the common hallway of the apartment building. These areas are considered a public space and are subject to both the open container laws and laws against public intoxication. If you are at a private single family residence however you may have an open container on the front steps or in the front or back yard.
3) Put open containers in the trunk of your vehicle
The law against drinking and driving applies to passengers as well as drivers. Because drinking in the vehicle is not allowed for anyone inside, there is really no reason not to simply put any and all alcohol in the trunk.
If a person is driving, neither the driver nor any of the passengers can possess an open or unsealed bottle, can, jar, or other container of an alcoholic beverage. There can be no open container of alcohol inside the passenger area of the vehicle, including the glove compartment or center consol. The passenger area also includes any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in their seating positions. This means simply placing an open container on the floor board of the back seat is likely illegal.
An open or unsealed container of alcohol may be placed in the trunk of the vehicle, or if a person is driving a vehicle that does not have a trunk, such as a pickup truck, the container must be transported behind the last upright seat of the motor vehicle.
4) Open containers are allowed in vehicles under one exception
If you ever have the pleasure of riding on a party bus or in a limousine, you will discover that drinking alcohol is allowed in such places. Passengers being transported in a vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for transportation of persons for compensation can possess open containers. Additionally, passengers being transported in the living quarters of a motor home, mobile home, travel trailer, or fifth-wheel can also possess open containers.
5) Get a lawyer
Violations of open container laws can result in unwanted marks on your record. Consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney such as Ray Scheetz if you are faced with such an offense. With his knowledge and experience, Ray can help you navigate the complex legal system.