Many people think that the only person in a vehicle who can’t consume alcohol is the driver. This is actually the case, but only to a limited extent. It is possible for a driver to bring a passenger who is drunk home; however, that passenger can’t consume alcohol in the vehicle or bring any open containers into it.
Title 75 PA.C.S.A. § 3809 clearly states that anyone who is in a vehicle can’t have an open container. This covers passengers and drivers alike. One interesting point to know here is that the provision only applies to personal vehicles. Any vehicle that is designed to transport passengers for a fee isn’t covered by this section, so it is lawful to consume alcohol in a bus, taxi or limousine. Another exception to the rule is house coaches or house trailers that have dedicated living quarters, but only if the person is in the living quarters.
It is a good idea for drivers to strictly forbid all passengers from consuming alcohol in the vehicle. Not only does this prevent the person from becoming even more intoxicated than they already are, it can prevent the driver and the passenger from facing a summary charge. No open containers of alcohol, including those that are empty, should ever be in the vehicle.
If you are stopped by the police and have an open container in the vehicle, expect to have to answer for it. Even though these don’t usually result in jail time, keeping open alcohol containers out of your vehicle can save yourself from having to pay a fine or go through the legal process.