Title 23 of the United States Code, Section 154, encourages states to adopt open container laws that meet specific federal requirements. If a state does not have such laws, a portion of the state's federal highway funds can be transferred to the state's highway safety programs or to road work. The statute outlines six requirements for state open container laws to be considered compliant: (1) the law must prohibit the possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of any alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle; (2) the passenger area of any motor vehicle on a public highway must be covered by the law; (3) the law must apply to all alcoholic beverages; (4) the law must apply to all occupants of the motor vehicle; (5) the law must apply to all motor vehicles; and (6) the law must provide for primary enforcement. A state's failure to comply with these requirements results in the transfer of a portion of the state's federal-aid highway funds to the state's Section 402 or Section 164 transfer funds.
Title 23, U.S.C., Section 164, requires states to enact and enforce laws that impose specific minimum penalties on individuals who repeatedly drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While this statute does not directly address open container laws, it is relevant because it reflects the federal government's broader efforts to discourage impaired driving, which is often associated with the possession of open containers in vehicles. The statute mandates that repeat offenders must face minimum penalties that include driver's license suspension for at least one year, an assessment of the individual's degree of alcohol abuse, and, as appropriate, treatment for alcohol abuse. States that fail to comply with these requirements are subject to a transfer of a portion of their federal highway funds to their state highway safety improvement program.