Be aware of alcohol on charter buses laws

Alcohol on Charter Buses


Renting a charter bus for your day trip lets you have more fun with your group. You’ll be able to spend your travel time socializing instead of driving in separate vehicles.

Having alcohol on charter buses is a perennial question because charter buses offer greater flexibility and control of seating options than public transportation. So, like airplanes and passenger trains, depending on where you are traveling, you may be able to enjoy alcoholic beverages during your bus ride. Where can travel groups legally drink on a charter bus? Is it a good idea?


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Is It Legal to Have Alcohol on Charter Buses?

Open container laws vary by location. Canada does not allow open containers of alcohol on any of its roads. In the United States, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) included guidelines for state open container laws. These guidelines include:

  • Prohibition of open alcoholic beverage containers in the passenger portion of a vehicle.
  • Definition of the passenger area of vehicles that includes seats, glove boxes, and any other areas that are accessible to riders and drivers in a seated position. Open containers are allowed in trunks or storage spaces behind the last row of seats.
  • Definition of open alcoholic beverage container to include wine, beer, and distilled spirits in a can, bottle, or receptacle with a broken seal.
  • Application of these restrictions to all vehicle passengers. States can, however, allow open containers in motor vehicles like taxis, buses, limousines, and house trailers.
  • Application of the laws to vehicles on public highways.

Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia conform to these standards. Traveling through these areas with open containers of alcohol on your charter bus, will result in you being charged with a misdemeanor crime. Traffic infractions and fines are other possible punitive measures.

Open Containers Where and When Are They Allowed on Charter Buses?

Open container laws are different from county to county.  You will unwittingly break the law during your trip, if you don’t prepare accordingly. Talk to your travel agent or coach rental company about specific regulations for the areas you will be visiting.

These states generally allow passengers to possess open alcohol containers on charter buses.

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Missouri
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

Arkansas and West Virginia allow open containers but prohibit drivers and passengers from consuming the contents.

With the popularity of party buses, more local governments are allowing open containers in the passenger area of certain vehicles. Your rental representative will have more information on what is allowed on your trip.

Should You Have Alcohol on Your Charter Bus Trip?

Even when Charter Buses allow alcohol, additional restrictions will  apply. States like California require a designated chaperone if passengers under the legal drinking age are in your party. This is to discourage underage consumption. Get all the details from your coach driver or company before your party hits the road.

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