The Definition of the Law
In California it is a crime to have an open alcoholic container in your vehicle while you are driving. Sections 23221 and 23222(a) define the open container law in California. Section 23221(a) states that no driver shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle upon a highway. Section 23221(b) states that no passenger shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle on a highway. Finally, Section 23222(a) states that no person shall have in his or her possession on his or her person, while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, any bottle, can, or other receptacle, containing any alcoholic beverage which has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.
The Contents of the Container
The practical implication of these laws is to make it illegal for anyone in a vehicle to have an open alcoholic container. Containers can be anything from a cup to a flask. The only way to avoid a citation for this is to place any open alcoholic containers in the trunk of your vehicle, where they cannot be accessed by anyone in the vehicle. Drivers should be particularly careful when transporting bottles of liquor or wine in which the seal has been broken or uncorked.