If you have visited the Las Vegas Strip recently, you have undoubtedly noticed the frequency with which visitors to our beautiful city seem to be walking with open containers. Some of those visitors may leave casino and pool areas with drinks, while others bring their own. This begs the question: what are Las Vegas’ open container laws? Is any of this legal?
Las Vegas’ Alcohol Culture
People often describe the very nature of the downtown and Strip areas of Las Vegas with one word – party. Visitors tend to treat the downtown and Strip areas as one big party, drifting from bar to bar, casino to casino, and then to a hotel and back, often with a drink in hand. Inside the casinos, bars, and nightclubs themselves, the alcohol culture is pervasive – drinks flow freely, and many vacationers are looking to cut loose and enjoy. Poolside, too, is a hotspot for alcohol consumption – many sunbathers choose to sip the beverage of their choice to cool off in the often-stifling Las Vegas heat.
The party reputation is well-earned, both by vacationers’ behavior and by local law. Las Vegas law is famous for largely ignoring the public consumption of alcohol. In fact, the propensity of law enforcement to look the other way was even well-known throughout Prohibition. However, is any of this actually legal?
Las Vegas Alcohol Laws
The city of Las Vegas – as well as unincorporated Clark County and Paradise, which includes the Strip – allows adults over the age of 21 to carry an open container of alcohol in certain areas. Further, those carrying an open container may consume the alcohol publicly in the same areas. You can drink publicly as long as you keep moving, as you cannot sit in one place and drink throughout the day.
For the most part, this applies to downtown Las Vegas and the Strip. Though the rule is supposedly city-wide, most private neighborhoods carry their own rules regarding public drinking. In addition, you cannot drink alcohol within 1000 feet of a church, synagogue, hospital, drug and alcohol treatment center, or school. Since the rules of private neighborhoods tend to be obscure and the presence of a church, school or hospital within 1,000 feet can be constant in some neighborhoods, your best bet is to keep your public drinking contained to the Strip and downtown areas.
The type of container used can have a significant impact on the legality of public drinking. If you purchase a drink in a closed container like a bottle, can, or jar, you cannot consume it on-site or within 1,000 feet of the establishment where you purchased it. The city of Las Vegas does not allow glass bottles or aluminum cans and bottles on the Strip in an effort to curb the use of glass bottles as a weapon and cut down on litter. So, if you purchase alcohol in a closed container, you are better off returning to your home or hotel in order to drink it.
Open-top plastic cups and containers are legal for public consumption. If you purchase a drink in a plastic cup, you may exit the casino, bar, or other establishment with the cup and continue to drink it on the street. Many establishments offer to pour drinks purchased in closed containers into a plastic cup for you, so you can finish your drink after you leave.
If you were injured by broken glass on the streets of Las Vegas, you may have a case. Contact one of our Las Vegas injury attorneys if you have any questions, they are able to look into your case and let you know what your options may be.
What About Vehicles?
What if you cannot finish your drink, but need to enter a vehicle in order to get home or to the next club? Las Vegas law states that you may not consume alcohol from an open container when you are in control of a moving vehicle or when you are a passenger in a motor vehicle. However, you may consume alcohol in a vehicle designed to provide a ride for a fare, such as a limo with a divider, party bus, or party RV.
Opinions vary regarding the legality of drinking in taxicabs or Uber vehicles that do not have barriers between the driver and passengers. We advise you not to take an open drink into a taxi or an Uber. Keep in mind that many companies maintain their own rules regarding open containers that may be stricter than local laws.