Drinking or Possessing Alcohol or Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle; Allowing an Intoxicated Minor to drive a Motor Vehicle

DRINKING

No person may drink an alcoholic beverage:

  • While driving a motor vehicle on a highway or in an area where off-highway vehicles are subject to regulation;1  or
  • While in a motor vehicle on a highway.2
Possession of opened container POSSESSION OF OPENED CONTAINER

Neither a person driving a motor vehicle nor a passenger in a motor vehicle driven by another may have in their possession “any bottle, can, or other receptacle, containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed” while that motor vehicle is either on a highway, or driven in an area subject to off-highway regulation.3

STORAGE OF OPENED CONTAINER

If any open alcohol containers are kept by the register owner of a vehicle located on a highway, or in an area where off-highway vehicles are subject to regulation, they must be placed in the trunk of the vehicle.4

In those vehicles that do not have a trunk, containers must be stored in an area not occupied by the driver or passengers which may include a utility or glove compartment.5  If the vehicle is an off-highway type then in a place that is locked.6

These requirements apply to the driver of a vehicle of the registered owner is not present.7

It is also unlawful for a passenger in a vehicle to keep an opened alcoholic beverage container in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle on a highway or on land where off-highway vehicles are subject to regulation.8

MINORS

A person who is under the age 21 may not have in a vehicle they are driving any alcoholic beverages, unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, responsible adult relative, an adult designated by their parent, or legal guardian; or unless the person is employed by a licensed alcoholic beverage dealer and is acting in the course of their employment.9

A person under the age of 21 who is a passenger in a vehicle, also may not possess an alcoholic beverage.10

However, if either the driver or passenger is a minor and was following the instructions of their parent or legal guardian, or other responsible adult relative, regarding the possession or disposition of the alcoholic beverage, in a timely manner, then that is a complete defense.11

If the vehicle used in the commission of this offense is registered to a person under the age of 21 it may be impounded for up to 30 days.12  A conviction for this offense results in a mandatory 1 year driver’s license suspension.13  A conviction is a misdemeanor and the sentence is up to 6 months in a county jail, a fine of $1000, or both.14

Possession of Marijuana POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA

Any person while driving a motor vehicle on a highway or other area where vehicles are regulated, and who possess marijuana which is less than an ounce (28.5 grams) is guilty of an infraction and must pay a fine of not more than $100.


EXEMPTIONS

ExemptionsOffenses involving a minor in possession of alcohol in motor vehicles are not applicable to all motor vehicles. Buses, taxicabs, or for hire limousine service, or any vehicle properly licensed to carry passengers, is exempted.15

Also exempted are owners or drivers of buses, taxicabs, or for hire limousine services, or any other licensed service that transports passengers, from the offenses involving open containers in a vehicle.16

Another exemption applies to the living area of those residing in a camper or other vehicle.17

RELINQUISHING POSSESSION OF VEHICLE TO INTOXICATED MINOR

It is a criminal offense for an adult to allow an intoxicated minor to drive a motor vehicle, where all of the following conditions exits:

  • Where either the adult knows or should know that the minor is intoxicated.18
  • Where the minor does not have a right to possession of the vehicle.19
  • Where the minor has a juvenile conviction for any of the following offenses,
  1. “Wet reckless.”20
  2. Under age person driving with any alcohol level.21
  3. Driving under the influence.22
  4. Vehicular manslaughter.23

A person convicted of violating this offense is guilty of a misdemeanor and the sentence is up to 6 months in a county jail, a fine up to $1000, or both.24





1 Section 23220 of the California Vehicle Code
2 Section 23220 of the California Vehicle Code
3 Sections 23223, 23222(a) of the California Vehicle Code
4 Section 23225(a)(1) of the California Vehicle Code
5 Section 23225(a)(2) of the California Vehicle Code
6 Section 23225(a)(3) of the California Vehicle Code
7 Section 23225(b) of the California Vehicle Code
8 Sections 23226(a), (b) of the California Vehicle Code
9 Section 23224(a) of the California Vehicle Code
10 Section 23224(b) of the California Vehicle Code
11 Sections 23224(a), (b) of the California Vehicle Code
12 Section 23224(c) of the California Vehicle Code
13 Sections 13202.5, 23224(d) of the California Vehicle Code
14 Section 23224(e) of the California Vehicle Code
15 Sections 23221, 23223, 23229(a) of the California Vehicle Code
16 Sections 23225, 23229(b) of the California Vehicle Code
17 Sections 23226, 23225(c)), 23226(c)), 23229(a)) of the California Vehicle Code
18 Section 193.8(a)(1) of the California Penal Code
19 Section 193.8(a)(3) of the California Penal Code
20 Section 193.8(a)(2) of the California Penal Code; sections 23103, 23103.5 of the California Vehicle Code
21 Section 193.8(a)(2) of the California Penal Code; section 23140 of the California Vehicle Code
22 Sections 23152, 23153 of the California Vehicle Code
23 Sections 191.5, 193.8(a)(2), 193.8(a)(2) of the California Penal Code
24 Section 193.8(c) of the California Penal Code