Transporting Alcoholic Beverages in New Hampshire

Transporting Alcohol in New Hampshire

In addition to driving under the influence of alcohol, a person in New Hampshire can be charged with a crime if they operate a vehicle with an open container of alcohol in their possession. Because the presence of an open container of an alcoholic beverage presents the opportunity for the driver to consume the alcohol while driving, lawmakers feel that there is no justifiable reason for anyone to have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. This is especially so if the driver is under the legal drinking age.

The open container laws in New Hampshire apply to “liquors'' and "beverages” which, under RSA 175:1, are defined as the following:

VIII. "Beverage'' means any beer, wine, similar fermented malt or vinous liquors and fruit juices and any other liquid intended for human consumption as a beverage having an alcoholic content of not less than 1/2 of one percent by volume and not more than 6 percent alcohol by volume at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and specialty beer as defined in RSA 175:1, LXIV-a. The commission may approve any cider greater than 6 percent.

XLII. "Liquor'' means all distilled and rectified spirits, alcohol, wines, fermented and malt liquors and cider, of over 6 percent alcoholic content by volume at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

A driver or passenger found with any type of open alcoholic beverage or liquor cold face penalties like a fine and license suspension. If you have been accused of violating an open container law in New Hampshire, contact Russman Law today.

NH Open Container Laws

According to RSA 265-A:44:

no driver shall transport, carry, possess, or have any liquor or beverage within the passenger area of any motor vehicle upon any way in this state except in the original container and with the seal unbroken.

If a driver must transport an alcoholic beverage that has previously been opened, the container must be “securely capped" and placed in the trunk of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, it must be placed in the area of the vehicle that at least accessible to the driver. In addition, a passenger of the vehicle shall not "carry, possess, or have any liquor or beverage" in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. This means that even if a passenger has an open container in the car, they or the driver could be charged with a violation of New Hampshire's open container law.

Generally, these laws apply to all types of vehicles and drivers. There are few exceptions including drivers for hire provided that the driver is not involved in consuming the alcohol and beverages are not accessible to the driver. Vehicles included under this provision are listed as the following:

  • A chartered bus
  • A taxi
  • A limousine

Underage Transporting Alcoholic Beverages in NH

New Hampshire transportation of alcoholic beverage laws also apply to minors (i.e. anyone who is under the legal drinking age of 21). RSA 265-A:45(I) states that no driver under the age of 21 shall “transport any liquor or beverage in any part of a vehicle”. Even if the beverage is in its original sealed container, a minor cannot transport or possess alcohol at all. The only exceptions to this rule are if the minor is accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or legal spouse who is over the legal drinking age. This law also does not apply to any driver under 21 who is employed in a job that requires them to transport alcoholic beverages in the scope of their duties.

In addition to motor vehicles, minors cannot transport alcohol on boats either unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse that is over 21 and a violation of this will lead to 90 days of boating license suspension and even 90 days of driver's license suspension.

The Penalties for New Hampshire Open Container Laws

Under RSA 265-A:44(IV), anyone over 21 who is convicted of violating an open container law in NH will face the following penalties:

  • A fine of $150
  • Driver's license suspension of 60 days for a first offense
  • Driver's license suspension of up to 1 year for a repeat offense

A minor convicted of transporting an alcoholic beverage under RSA 265-A:45 will face license suspension of 60 days.

Call A NH DWI Attorney

If you are facing a charge for transporting an alcoholic beverage in New Hampshire, act fast and call a DWI attorney. A conviction can result in license suspension, especially if you have prior offenses. Attorney Ryan Russman can help you fight the charges and keep your license. Call us now to set up a consultation.