Non-alcoholic drinks are getting more popular day by day. Unlike alcoholic drinks, NA (Non-alcoholic) drinks don’t affect your ability to communicate and operate. However, most states in the USA don’t discriminate among those drinks when it comes to drunk driving.
Today, we’re going to learn about the laws in the USA around drinking non-alcoholic drinks while driving. We’ll know about the open container law and DUI offenses. We’ll also get a scoop on DUI laws in the neighboring countries. Let’s get started.
What is considered “Non-alcoholic?”
By definition, non-alcoholic drinks don’t contain any concentration of alcohol. However, some states in the USA have a limitation on the percentage of alcohol in your drinks. For a drink to be considered “alcoholic,” it has to contain at least 1% alcohol, according to the FDA.
The reason for that is that if you drink something with below 1% alcohol concentration, you won’t become intoxicated and lose your control. Some countries, however, have strict policies against Driving Under the Influence (DUI) which can result in a minimum of 10 years in prison.
Can You Drink Non-alcoholic Beer While Driving?
Technically, you can. However, most states in the USA don’t discriminate between “alcoholic” and “non-alcoholic” beverages and you’ll most probably end up being pulled over by a cop.
You can surely understand the strong reason behind it, right? Each day, around 32 lives are lost across the US because of drunk driving.
Even if your state has allowed you to consume “non-alcoholic” drinks, it would not be advisable to take risks over the life of you and the people surrounding you.
So the answer to your questions is: You shouldn’t. While you have the technical and legal loophole working for you, you shouldn’t compromise on safety. Drunk drivers not only cause health hazards to themselves but also become a potential hazard for anyone nearby.
The open container law
Despite the federal law of below 1% alcohol drinks being considered “non-alcoholic” drinks, we saw a 14% rise in the death count because of alcohol-impaired driving in 2020. The recent legalization of marijuana in many states has increased the risk factors.
As a result, policymakers had to get creative. They created what is called an “open container law” to control or outright prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public areas and within a vehicle.
According to this law, you can’t’ have an open container of alcoholic beverages in your car. If you have an open container (bottle/can) in your car, you will get pulled over by a cop and unless you were using a straw or screw, you’ll get a DUI.
This happens because many states do not differentiate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. If you get a DUI, your license will get suspended, and you’ll be subject to a fine (up to $1000), jail (up to 6 months), or both.
Non-alcoholic Beer Laws Across the Country
These states have no active open container law and you are legally open to drink and drive. However, we strongly suggest you avoid driving under the influence of any substance to reduce risks to you and your loved ones.
- Puerto Rico
These states don’t 100% comply with the open container law and provide a slight chance you can get away with non-alcoholic drinks in your car. However, carrying and consuming drinks with more than 1% alcohol is still prohibited and a punishable offense.
Here is a list of US states that comply with the open container law, with some moderations:
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
A lot of countries, including many states in the USA, have understood the dangers of driving under influence, and have taken precautions to minimize the use of alcohol during tasks that require precision and accuracy; like driving a powerful engine through a crowd.
These 31 states have a “zero-tolerance” policy against driving under the influence and you can get into real problems if you face a DUI here:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Non-Alcoholic Beer laws in the UK
Although there is no “Open container law” in the UK, drunk driving is strictly prohibited. They measure alcohol consumption in 3 categories:
- In blood: up to 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood is allowed
- In breath: up to 35 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath is allowed
- In urine: up to 107 milligrams per 100 milliliters of breath are allowed
Anything above that will cause you to get a DUI, which has A fine of up to £5,000, a one-year driving ban, and 6 months of imprisonment.
Non-Alcoholic Beer laws in Canada
Canada has the most strict DUI laws and as result, much fewer drunk-driving accidents than in the USA. They will fine you around $1000, but will cease your license for up to 10 years and send you to jail for a minimum of 30 days for the 1st and 120 days for repeated violations.
Instead of the term “non-alcoholic,” Canada uses the term “low-alcoholic” and drinks with a lower Alcohol By Volume (ABV) than 0.4% are considered “low-alcoholic”. They also restrict the immigration of the people into their country that has a previous DUI record.
What to do if you get pulled over?
The best thing to do when you get pulled over by a cop is to cooperate. Most non-alcoholic drinks look exactly like the alcoholic ones, and the cop has a good reason to pull you over.
So, cooperate and answer all the questions. If you’re uncomfortable, stay silent. Be confident about the “non-alcoholic” drink and try to explain the situation in a calm manner. Here’s what to do if you get pulled over by a cop.
- Cooperate with the cop (use a Breathalyzer if needed)
- Be polite and try to answer all the questions
- Provide your credentials
- Be confident
- If you’re intoxicated, tell them directly
- Stay silent if you feel uncomfortable
- Contact your lawyer if needed
1. How long does a non-alcoholic beer stay in your system?
Ans: An alcoholic drink will leave your system in about an hour. The same goes for a non-alcoholic drink as well.
2. Can I buy non-alcoholic beer before 10 AM?
Ans: Yes. In most states, there are no restrictions on the time and place for selling non-alcoholic beverages. You can even buy one from your nearest grocery/retail store.