When good people get in trouble: Missouri (816) 875-0470 Kansas (913) 624-9646

For those living in the Kansas City area, it’s common to hop over the state line to see friends, go out to eat, or even commute to work. Because the metro area covers parts of two different states, it is easy to forget that when crossing from Missouri to Kansas or vice versa that different laws may apply. Assuming that the same law applies in Kansas as Missouri is an easy way to get into a lot of trouble. Take alcohol laws, for example. Despite the many similarities between Kansas and Missouri, the two states have some very different laws regarding open containers. Learning those differences now could save you from a big legal problem in the future.

Missouri Open Container Laws

In Missouri, the open container alcohol laws are less strict than in its neighboring state of Kansas. In fact, Missouri has some of the least stringent alcohol laws in the U.S. Missouri is one of only six states that has no general open container law for vehicles. In general, any passenger in a car is allowed to consume alcohol while the car is parked or in motion. However, some individual municipalities do have local laws in place that forbid open containers in vehicles. Kansas City itself does not have one of these laws. Of course, the driver of any vehicle is forbidden from drinking while driving and severe penalties may occur if drivers are caught under the influence of alcohol.

In addition to Missouri’s lack of vehicular open container laws, the state is also one of only six states that has no law to prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public places. However, there are other laws that restrict this freedom. For example, establishments that sell alcohol typically are forbidden from allowing patrons to leave the premises with open containers of alcohol. However, restaurants may allow patrons to take home unfinished bottles of wine as long as they first close the bottle and place it in a sealed bag for transportation. One notable exception is the Power & Light District in Kansas City, Missouri. A special Missouri state law overrides Kansas City’s local prohibition of open containers in public, allowing patrons of the entertainment district to carry and consume alcohol in the street in open plastic containers. It is important to remember that throughout the rest of Kansas City, open alcohol containers are prohibited by city laws.

Kansas Open Container Laws

The state of Kansas has much stricter laws on alcohol consumption in public than most of the U.S., and especially more strict than the state of Missouri. When coming from Missouri to Kansas, it is important to understand the differences in the two states’ laws in order to ensure that you will not find yourself in serious trouble. Kansas state law prohibits open containers of alcohol outside of private buildings and licensed alcohol sellers. Open containers are further prohibited inside motor vehicles. It is forbidden to transport an open container of alcohol in any vehicle on either a highway or street. There are several exceptions to this vehicular law. For example, if the alcohol is in the original and unopened container, it is permitted inside a vehicle. It is also permitted to keep alcohol in the locked trunk of the vehicle, or, if the vehicle does not have a truck, behind the farthest seat in the area not occupied by the driver. It is also permitted to carry alcohol in a recreational vehicle, such as a limousine.
The exception for consuming alcohol in public is when a special event help on public streets or spaces carries a temporary permit by the state of Kansas allowing patrons of the event to carry and consume alcohol within the grounds of the special event. Carrying or consuming an open container of alcohol outside the premises can result in legal trouble.

Professional Legal Advice

Daniel C. Miller is a defense attorney serving both Kansas and Missouri. If you need legal help regarding alcohol related charges in the Kansas City area, call today at (816) 875-0470 in Missouri or (913) 624-9646 in Kansas.