If you regularly drive or ride in a commercial vehicle, you may have wondered about how Oregon open container laws apply to you. You may have found yourself wondering, “Can you have beer in a commercial vehicle?” If the beer is consumed, open, or unsealed, the answer to this question is no. And the same concept applies to all alcohol. But there are some exceptions to this rule that depend on the circumstances of your case.
Improperly handling or storing alcoholic beverages in any vehicle can subject you to steep fines and penalties. Violating Oregon liquor laws can also ruin your livelihood, especially if you are a commercial driver. The best way to avoid the consequences of improperly handling alcohol in a vehicle is to understand your obligations under Oregon law. So let’s take a look at the rules regarding alcohol in personal and commercial vehicles.
Oregon Liquor Laws
Laws regarding the same subject can differ significantly from state to state, including laws on handling and consuming alcohol. Among the liquor laws that you need to understand are the laws regarding the legal drinking age, legal alcohol limits when driving, and the presence of open containers in vehicles. Violations of these laws can subject you to license suspensions or revocations, financial penalties, and criminal penalties.
Legal Drinking Age
The legal drinking age in Oregon is 21. Anyone under the age of 21 is considered a minor, and anyone under 18 is a juvenile.
Liabilities for minors and juveniles
Minors and juveniles who purchase or consume alcohol can suffer criminal penalties and lose driving privileges. There are limited exceptions for minors who consume wine as part of a religious service.
Liabilities for adults
If you provide alcohol to a minor or juvenile, you can be convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor. It also means that the government can confiscate any property involved in the crime. You are also criminally liable if you offer alcohol to an adult who you know is going to offer it to a juvenile or minor.
Limited exceptions for parents
There is an exception to the drinking age laws for parents. Parents can legally offer alcohol to their minor children, but they can only offer it to their own children inside their own private residence.
The Legal Alcohol Limit in Oregon
Drinking and driving do not and must not mix. Drivers who are over the legal limit can face stiff penalties and criminal sanctions.
The legal limit for all drivers
Under Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 813.010, any driver whose blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08% or higher within two hours of driving can be convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII). Depending on the circumstances, a DUII can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Financial penalties can range from $1,000 to $10,000, and the state can suspend or terminate the offender’s driving privileges.
The legal limit for commercial drivers
Commercial drivers are subject to more stringent standards when it comes to alcohol and driving. Oregon’s Driver & Motor Vehicle Services (DMV) can suspend your commercial driver’s license if you drive a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher. The DMV can also suspend your license:
- If you are guilty of DUII when driving any vehicle; or
- If you refuse to take an alcohol test while driving any vehicle.
Additionally, a commercial driver who negligently causes the death of another person is subject to suspension. Consuming alcohol while driving a commercial vehicle increases this possibility.
Additionally, you can suffer an indefinite driver’s license suspension if you commit two or more driving offenses. Some drivers subject to lifetime suspensions can apply for reinstatement after 10 years, and some cannot.
The Open Container Law in Oregon
In general, you cannot have open alcoholic beverage containers in a motor vehicle, regardless of whether that vehicle is for personal or commercial use. Under ORS 811.170, you are guilty of an open container law violation if you:
- Drink any alcohol while you are in your vehicle;
- Have an open, unsealed, or partially-consumed container of alcohol on your person while in your vehicle; or
- Have an open, unsealed, or partially-consumed container of alcohol in your vehicle.
It is not an open container violation if you keep alcohol in the trunk of your car or in an area where there are no drivers or passengers in a trunkless car. It is also not a violation if you keep alcohol in the living quarters of a motor home.
In general, if you are a commercial driver who works for a common carrier that carries passengers for hire, many aspects of the open container law do not apply to you. You cannot be expected to know if passengers using your service have an open container of alcohol in their bags. Nor are you expected to search them as they board your vehicle. However, you are still liable if you or a passenger offers alcohol to juveniles or minors or allows minors or juveniles to drink alcohol in the vehicle.
We Are Here to Help Protect Our Community and Its Roads
At D’Amore Law Group, we have over 30 years of legal experience, and we have successfully represented thousands of people during their times of need. We are strongly committed to helping the Oregon community with our legal expertise. We are skilled in several areas of the law, including commercial and personal car accidents. So if you have suffered devastation because of a car or trucking accident, please know that you do not have to suffer alone. You can call our offices and talk to a skilled legal advocate who is trained to recover the amount of compensation that you are due. We can be that advocate for you. You can call us or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation. There is no fee unless we win, so you have absolutely nothing to lose by giving us a call.