Is it legal to drink alcohol publicly in Las Vegas?

When it comes to alcohol consumption, this city has some of the nation’s least restrictive rules. Nevada law designates the Las Vegas area as one of the few places without an open container law in the United States.

We checked with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. and they confirmed that it’s fine, as long as you’re 21 or older, to wander down the Strip –- or any other street in town –- openly swigging your beer or sipping a cocktail; no brown paper bag required.

Here, however, are the exceptions: Drinking isn’t allowed within 1,000 feet of a church, synagogue, public or private school, hospital, substance-withdrawal-management facility, and homeless shelter.

You also can’t consume alcohol on any premises in which you buy it in a closed container. If you purchase an alcoholic beverage in a container that needs to be popped, twisted, or otherwise opened, you have to be at least 1,000 feet away from the premises where you bought the drink.

It’s absolutely fine to bring your drink into a casino, but generally, it’s not acceptable to take a drink from outside into other licensed establishments, such as bars or clubs, which make their money from serving their own liquor.

Of course, no property is too thrilled if you try to take out a drink in their glassware, but most are happy to supply a to-go cup if you want to leave before you’ve finished.

In fact, it’s illegal to carry glass beverage containers on the Strip, even if they contain non-alcoholic beverages. Plastic only. This helps to prevent broken glass on the streets and sidewalks.

Drinking in a moving vehicle is another story. According to Nevada’s open-container law (NRS 484.448), it’s “unlawful for a person to drink an alcoholic beverage while he is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle upon a highway” or “for a person to have an open container of an alcoholic beverage within the passenger area of a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is upon a highway.”

However, this law exempts “a motor vehicle which is designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, or in the living quarters of a house coach or house trailer.”

In plain English, legally, it’s okay to drink while you’re a passenger in a fare-charging vehicle — such as a cab, limo, shuttle, or party bus, or in the back of an RV. However, limos must have a partition between the driver’s seat and the passenger area of the car in order for passengers to lawfully have an open container.

If your cabbie says no, you can quote him the open-container statute, but be aware that some companies have their own restrictions.

The city’s Citizens Area Transport (CAT) buses have a no-eating/drinking/smoking rule, and alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the Strip Monorail.

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