Open Containers are Legal in Minnesota on Frozen Lakes

What are the laws in Minnesota regarding open bottles of alcohol and driving on frozen lakes? Reporter Jay Kolls spoke with state officials about Minnesota laws concerning driving on frozen lakes and open bottles of liquor. He discovered that under Minnesota DWI law, a motorist can be on a frozen lake in a vehicle with the engine running and open a bottle of alcohol without breaking any laws. As long as the motorist is not intoxicated, there is nothing illegal about having an open container in the car, even if the motorist is driving with it.

However, if the motorist moves onto dry land, everything changes. Apparently, the strange loophole in the law stems from the legality of having open containers on a boat. This extends to snowmobiles, cars, and ATVs if the water is frozen. Also, if there is a plowed roadway maintained by a city or county across the frozen water, a motorist can be charged with an open bottle violation.

KSTP news found out that in Hennepin County, there have only been two DWIs written on frozen lakes between November and January. Ramsey County did not report any DWIs on frozen lakes. Mothers Against Drunk Driving were surprised to hear of the strange Minnesota loophole regarding open containers and frozen lakes, and said that they may use this loophole as ammunition to fight for stricter laws on open bottles of alcohol on open waters.