Las Vegas is a popular tourist attraction known for its sites, shows, gambling, and drinking. While the area is filled with bars and casinos to meet these needs, Las Vegas also has many visitors walking outside with open containers filled with alcohol.
Many people, especially those visiting from outside the area, may question whether these open containers are legal. State laws designate Las Vegas as one of the few places in the United States without restricting open containers.
Due to this uncertainty and misconceptions surrounding these laws, we have prepared the following information. We will dive into open container laws, what they mean for those in Las Vegas, and what your legal options are if an alcohol-related accident injures you in the city.
What Exactly Is an Open Container?
An open container is any container that has been unsealed and contains alcohol, including:
- An uncorked bottle of wine
- An opened can of beer or hard seltzer
- A solo cup filled with beer pumped from a keg
- A bottle of spirits with the cap untwisted, popped, or unscrewed
In addition, you cannot close an unsealed container of alcohol. The container is open even if you put the cork or cap back on the container.
What Are Open Container Laws, and Why Are They in Place?
An open container is a law that restricts where people can drink alcohol in public. What defines a public place depends on the specific city or state laws and how the courts in the area have interpreted these laws.
Consequently, depending on these laws, violations may occur when a person drinks or possess an open container of alcohol while:
- In a parked car
- On a sidewalk
- On school property
- In a parking lot
- In a residential neighborhood
- In a mobile home
- On the front steps or in the common hallway of an apartment building
Even though these laws are in place for many reasons, generally, they are enforced to protect communities by reducing injuries from drunk driving and disorderly conduct.
How is Alcohol Defined in Las Vegas?
In Nevada, the definition of an alcoholic beverage is:
- Beer, ale, porter, distilled liquors, and other similar fermented beverages which have at least one-half of one percent alcohol by volume
- Any beverages produced by fermenting the natural content of agricultural products that contain sugar and have one-half of one percent or more alcohol by volume
- Any distilled spirits commonly referred to as ethanol, ethyl alcohol, or spirits of wine in any form
Drinking Alcohol in Public in Nevada
According to Nevada’s laws, the state does not prohibit drinking in public and is, therefore, not a crime. However, there are rules regarding drinking from open containers, and depending on the city, local laws may prohibit public consumption, such as on certain streets and other public areas.
Open Container and Public Drinking Laws in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, adults 21 years and older can consume alcohol outside on Las Vegas sidewalks. However, the laws for drinking on the Las Vegas Strip differ from those in Downtown and on Fremont Street. Las Vegas proper and the Las Vegas Strip have different rules regarding public drinking and open containers.
One of the reasons for this disparity is that the Las Vegas Strip stretches across two towns, Winchester and Paradise, Nevada. As a result, open containers and public drinking are subject to the laws of the surrounding Clark County, which allows open containers on both the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding area, with a few exceptions.
Rules Regarding Drinking and Open Containers on the Las Vegas Strip
It is legal to have an open container of alcohol if you are walking along the Las Vegas Strip. However, as of 2014, Las Vegas prohibits people from carrying alcohol in glass containers. Individuals cannot carry any beverage, alcoholic or not, in a glass container on the Strip. This prohibition aims to prevent broken glass on the streets and protect individuals from harm while walking on the Strip. However, it is legal for pedestrians to carry open containers of alcohol as long as they are in paper cups, aluminum containers, or plastic cups.
Additionally, in Las Vegas, pedestrians may not carry an open alcohol container in parking lots or within 1,000 feet of where they purchased the alcohol in a closed container. It is also illegal to drink at public parks unless a special event with proper permits occurs.
Having an Open Container in a Motor Vehicle in Las Vegas
Nevada makes it a crime for a passenger or a driver to have an open container of alcohol anywhere in the passenger area of an automobile. It is illegal even if this open container is out of reach, no one is drinking from the container, or the motorist has zero blood alcohol. Unlawfully driving a motor vehicle with an open container is a misdemeanor in Nevada, which means that individuals charged with this crime can face up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.
Additionally, these penalties can double if the vehicle is in a work zone or a pedestrian safety zone. The court can also impose community service on those who violate this law.
Acceptable Consumption of Alcohol as a Passenger in Las Vegas
If an individual is a passenger in the living quarters of a house trailer or house coach in Las Vegas, open containers are permitted.
And though public transportation prohibits open containers, they are allowed in the passenger areas of private commercial vehicles, including:
- Limos with a partition between the passenger seats and the driver’s seat
- Town cars
- Tour buses
- RV buses
- Chartered party buses
However, it is important to observe and respect any individual restrictions of businesses or drivers. For instance, the Regional Transportation Commission buses have a “no open container” policy, and pedicab operators in unincorporated Clark County may not allow open containers in their rickshaws.
Additionally, when it comes to a ride-sharing vehicle such as an Uber or a Lyft, the consensus is that open containers are not allowed. These vehicles are not designed primarily for commercial transportation, even if their owners use them for this purpose, and don’t fall under the exception above.
Open Container Rules in Downtown Las Vegas
Pedestrians must purchase alcohol from an entity with a tavern license to drink outside in Downtown Las Vegas. Most restaurants and bars downtown have a limited tavern license, which means these establishments cannot let patrons leave the premises with open containers.
In addition, because Downtown Las Vegas and Fremont Street are part of the incorporated City of Las Vegas, open container laws there are generally more restrictive than in the rest of Clark County. The Fremont Street pedestrian mall prohibits open glass or aluminum containers within 1000ft of a packaged liquor store. It is also illegal to carry an open container within 1,000 feet of a hospital, school, liquor store, church, and homeless shelter in the area.
Bringing Alcoholic Drinks into Casinos in Las Vegas
No law forbids individuals from bringing alcoholic drinks into a Las Vegas casino so long as it is in a paper or plastic container. However, the casino will likely object to outside drinks as their clubs, restaurants, and bars are licensed to serve and sell alcoholic beverages, and outside drinks reduce their sales.
Bringing Alcohol Into Las Vegas Hotels
While the law does not explicitly prohibit bringing alcohol into a Las Vegas hotel, you must respect the hotel’s rules regarding alcoholic beverages. For instance, some hotels in Las Vegas indicate that you are not allowed to bring any outside alcohol into their pool area, no matter what container you use. Additionally, these hotels may restrict carrying alcohol into their businesses licensed to sell alcohol, such as clubs, shops, hotel bars, and restaurants.
Time Limits to Buy Alcohol in Las Vegas
Although some states have a cut-off point for serving alcohol and often restrict alcohol sales by day of the week, time, and even location, bars are free to stay open 24 hours a day in Nevada. Even Las Vegas supermarkets, liquor shops, and convenience stores can sell alcohol anytime.
Being Drunk in Public—Is It Allowed in Las Vegas?
In Las Vegas, it is not illegal to be drunk in public. However, local authorities can make arrests or issue citations for behaviors when an individual is in public and has too much to drink. In these instances, it is not uncommon for police officers to charge a drunk person for trespassing, jay-walking, public urination, and breach of peace.
Las Vegas Driving Under the Influence Laws
Although individuals are allowed to drink on the streets in Las Vegas, Nevada prohibits anyone from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
As a result, those that drive while under the influence of alcohol and cause another person to suffer substantial bodily injury or death can face significant fines, a driver’s license suspension, and even an extensive prison sentence. In addition, those injured in these types of car crashes may be able to file a claim to recover compensation for the harm they sustained, including costs related to their medical expenses, lost wages, permanent or temporary disability, rehabilitation, and prescription medication expenses.
Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today and Get the Legal Help You Need
If an alcohol-related accident in Las Vegas injured you or a loved one, a personal injury lawyer can help you toward recovery. Accidental injuries can be stressful, debilitating, and devastating, while forever impacting your life—emotionally, physically, and financially. However, you do not have to deal with these horrifying consequences alone. With an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer on your side, you can receive the legal support you need to get through this challenging ordeal and pursue the justice you deserve.
Once retained, your lawyers can:
- Go over your accident in detail, evaluate your legal claim, and determine what legal options you can pursue.
- Answer all the questions you have regarding your case and the legal process involved.
- Investigate the incident thoroughly and secure the evidence needed to prove fault and damages.
- Hold all the individuals responsible for your accident accountable for your harm and losses.
- Ensure to file legal motions before time expires.
- Take on the insurance companies and fight for a fair settlement offer.
- Proceed to trial if the opposing side is unwilling to negotiate fairly or come to a reasonable settlement and go after the maximum damages you deserve.
Do not wait any longer to secure the legal help you need to recover from your alcohol-related accident injuries. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free case evaluation. Let these lawyers show you how to fight for the financial recovery you deserve.