Can You Drink Non Alcoholic Wine In Public? Open container or not?

Non alcoholic wine is incredibly popular and only set to grow further. You can’t have failed to see how much shelf space it is taking over. There are so many benefits like a huge reduction in calories but clearly the biggest one is that it doesn’t have much alcohol. You might want to bring a bottle to a picnic in a park but first you need to ask “can you drink non alcoholic wine in public?”

Can you drink non alcoholic wine in public?

You can drink non alcoholic wine in public as it is not covered by open container laws due to its non alcoholic, 0.5% ABV status. You can also drink it without risk of a public intoxication charge as you need to drink over 96 glasses of non alcoholic wine to get drunk.

What stops you drinking alcohol in public in the USA?

A good place to start when thinking about drinking non alcoholic wine in public is to ask why you might not be allowed to, what are the laws that prevent you drinking alcohol or wine in public?

Open container law

The first and biggest issue is the “open container” laws in the US.

An open container law restricts where people can drink alcohol in various public spaces. What constitutes a public place largely depends on your state or city’s laws, and how any court might interpret them.

Some of the places which might fall foul of open container laws, may occur when one drinks or possess an open container of alcohol while:

  • On a public sidewalk
  • Inside of your car when parked
  • On the front steps or in the common hallway of your apartment building.
  • On a school grounds
  • In a mobile home
  • In a residential neighborhood
  • In a parking lot

On of the other major open container law areas is in cars as well. You can see a list of what the states laws are here and read my full article about if you can drink alcohol while driving, here.

Public intoxication law

Another misdemeanour law that could trip you up when drinking alcohol or beer in public is to be intoxicated or drunk in public.

Public intoxication, being drunk in public, is a misdemeanor crime that a person is visibly drunk or even under the influence of drugs, when out and about in a public space. These types of laws exist to stop people from annoying others when in public spaces and to get people out of a public space who might be a danger to themselves or even others.

By definition, a public intoxication charge has to have 3 different parts, all of which must be met in order to obtain a conviction. It has to be shown that the person was…

  • Was under the influence of alcohol/drugs/controlled substances;
  • Caused a disturbance or harm to another person; and
  • Was present in a public place.

How much alcohol is in a non alcoholic wine?

Non alcoholic wine is still called wine and it has a certain percentage of alcohol by volume on the can, so just how much alcohol is in it?

There are lots of different names and labels in the non alcoholic wine world. Ive written a full article on what all the names mean and how to find your way around it, you can read it here.

A non alcoholic wine has an ABV of 0.5% or less.

An alcohol free wine will have an ABV of less than 0.05%.

To get a clearer idea of just how low 0.5% ABV actually is, you can look at some common foods and drinks that contain similar amounts of alcohol. Fruit juices have more alcohol by volume than non alcoholic wine and even some breads do!

To read more about the surprising alcohol in common foods, you can read more about it here.

Does non alcoholic wine come under the open container law?

The FDA inform us that a non alcoholic wine or “dealcoholized” must have less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. 

The Federal Alcohol Administration Act states that “an alcoholic beverage is any liquid which contains not less than one half of one percent alcohol by volume and is intended for human consumption. That means an alcoholic beverage needs to have more than 0.5% ABV”

So from this Federal law, an alcoholic beverage must have an ABV of over 0.5%. Therefore non alcoholic wines are just as you would guess and not alcoholic. They do not come under the open container law. This is amazing news.

Can you get drunk on non alcoholic wine, will you be intoxicated in public?

In order to get drunk on non alcoholic wine you would need to drink over 96 5fl oz glasses in as little as 2 hours. The numbers for alcohol free beers are mind-blowing. You would need to drink as many as 960 glasses of alcoholic free wine to get drunk. You just cant physically do it.

My full article on the how i worked out all these numbers to get drunk is here

To drink this amount of non alcoholic wine and be classed as drunk is basically impossible. 96 glasses is about 19 bottles of wine and 960 glasses is 190 bottles! If you are just wanting to drink a few non alcoholic or alcohol free wines in the park or another public space, there should be no risk of a public intoxication charge.

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