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Open Container Laws And
Alcohol Involved Crashes

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DOT HS 809 426

Some Preliminary Data

April 2002


Technical Documentation Page
Executive Summary
Background
Purpose of Section 154
Open Container Law Incentives
Open Container Law Conformance Criteria
Status of Conformance: October 2000
Evaluation of the Effects of Open Container Laws

Public Opinion Concerning Open Container Laws
Conclusions
Acknowledgments
References 
Appendix A: Data Tables

Table 1: Summary of Previous Open Container Laws In the First Four States to Enact Laws to Conform with TEA-21 Requirements


Figure 1: Percent of All Fatal Crashes That Were Alcohol-Involved: Six-Month Period After Enforcement Began Compared to the Same Period in the Previous Year


Figure 2: Nighttime Hit-and-Run Crashes: Six-Month Period After Enforcement Began Compared to the Same Period in the Previous Year

Figure 3: Percent of All Fatal Crashes That Were Alcohol-Involved

Figure 4: Percent of Residents Who Believe Their States Should Have An Open Container Law

 

This report presents the results of a study conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to assess the highway safety effects of laws that prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages to be located in the passenger compartment of motor vehicles operated on public roadways. These laws are commonly referred to as Open Container laws. 

Status of Conformance: October 2000

The overall status of states’ conformity to the Federal Standard is constantly changing. However, the status of conformance as of October 2000 is presented below.6

Fully Conforming States Before Enactment 
of the TEA 21 Restoration Act

The following States had in effect open container laws that conformed fully with the Federal open container requirements contained in 23 U.S.C. § 154 and the agency’s implementing regulations, 23 CFR Part 1270, as of October 1, 2000. Accordingly, these States were not subject to a transfer of funds under the Section 154 program on that date. The laws were in effect in these states and the District of Columbia before July 22, 1998, when the Section 154 program was established by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21) Restoration Act, and have not been amended since. 

  • California 
  • District of Columbia 
  • Illinois
  • Kansas 
  • Michigan
  • Nevada 
  • New Hampshire 
  • North Dakota 
  • Ohio 
  • Oklahoma 
  • Oregon 
  • Utah 
  • Washington 
  • Wisconsin 

States that Became Fully Conforming 
Since Enactment of the TEA-21 Restoration Act

The following States had open container laws in effect that conformed fully with the Federal open container requirements contained in 23 U.S.C. § 154 and the agency’s implementing regulations, 23 CFR Part 1270, as of October 1, 2000. Accordingly, these States were not subject to a transfer of funds under the Section 154 program on that date. The laws in these states were amended since July 22, 1998, when the Section 154 program was established by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21) Restoration Act. 

  • Alabama 
  • Arizona
  • Florida 
  • Hawaii 
  • Idaho 
  • Iowa 
  • Kentucky 
  • Maine 
  • Minnesota 
  • Nebraska 
  • New Jersey
  • New York 
  • North Carolina 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Rhode Island 
  • South Carolina 
  • South Dakota 

States with Open Container Laws that Did Not 
Fully Conform as of October 1, 2000

The following States did not have open container laws in effect that complied fully with the Federal open container requirements contained in 23 U.S.C. § 154 and the agency’s implementing regulations, 23 CFR Part 1270, as of October 1, 2000. Accordingly, these States were subject to a transfer of funds under the Section 154 program on that date.

  • Alaska 
  • Arkansas 
  • Colorado 
  • Delaware
  • Georgia 
  • Indiana 
  • Louisiana 
  • Maryland 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Missouri 
  • Montana 
  • New Mexico 
  • Tennessee 
  • Texas 
  • Vermont 
  • Virginia 
  • West Virginia 

States With No Open Container Laws as of October 1, 2000

The following States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico did not have any open container laws in effect, as of October 1, 2000. Accordingly, these States were subject to a transfer of funds under the Section 154 program on that date. 

  • Connecticut 
  • Mississippi 
  • Puerto Rico 
  • Wyoming