Can You Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer While Driving?

man driving with a green shirt on

Drinking alcohol and driving is both illegal and a huge danger to yourself and the public. No one should drink behind the wheel, but can you drink non-alcoholic beer while driving?

There are not any specific laws that specifically prohibit drinking non-alcoholic beer while driving. There are, however, open container laws in some jurisdictions, and non-alcoholic beer might fall into this category. It’s a bit of a gray area. 

Even non-alcoholic beers can have up to 0.5% ABV. This small amount could affect people in various ways. Also, drinking anything while driving can be distracting, which could still put you and the public at risk so doing so is not advisable.

An alcohol content of 0.5% ABV is only a minute amount of what is found in regular alcoholic beers. Still, this could have varying effects on people. And ultimately, it all comes down to personal judgment and circumstances plus local laws you should keep in mind.

What is Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Non-alcoholic beer is a type of beer that, as its name suggests, contains very little to no traces of alcohol.

It’s made with the same processes as regular beer but with an additional step that removes the alcohol content from the beer. What is left is a beverage that tastes and smells just like regular beer but without the intoxicating effects that get people drunk.

Non-alcoholic beer and beverages are a great alternative if you don’t particularly enjoy the feeling of getting drunk or hungover the next day or if you’re trying to cut down on alcohol intake.

The alcohol content of non-alcoholic beer

You need to know that just because something is labeled as non-alcoholic doesn’t mean it contains absolutely zero traces of alcohol.

Most beverages branded and marketed as “non-alcoholic” can have up to 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) at most. This is the maximum limit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set for something to fall under the “non-alcoholic” category.

Though there is this half percentage alcohol, it’s nowhere near as much as what’s present in regular beer so it wouldn’t have the same intoxicating effects.

Can You Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer While Driving?

The answer to this question is more complex and can instead be a gray area.

While technically, there aren’t any laws prohibiting you from consuming a non-alcoholic beer behind the wheel, doing so could still put you in a tough spot.

Drinking while driving can be distracting, even if it doesn’t make you drunk. While you legally can drink non-alcoholic beer while driving, if it distracts you, you become a danger not only to yourself but to the public as well.

The effects of non-alcoholic beer on the body

It’s important to remember that non-alcoholic beverages will affect people’s bodies differently. And while it doesn’t intoxicate drinkers the same way regular beer does, everyone’s body is different and what one person can tolerate, others can’t. 

The Open Container Laws

The open container laws prohibit any open containers of alcohol inside a vehicle that is easily accessible to the occupants. This covers everything from cans, bottles, flasks, and any other container holding alcohol.

The laws are similar across the United States but are not federally enforced. There are some states where these laws do not apply, so check the laws in your own state. 

Under the open container laws, it’s unclear if you can get in trouble for drinking non-alcoholic beer while driving. However, you have to keep in mind that non-alcoholic beers are packaged similarly to regular beers, and most show that they contain a little alcohol, even if it’s the same amount as kombucha. 

If a police officer saw one in your hand, they might mistake it for alcoholic beer, pull you over, and get you in trouble nonetheless.

Can You Get a DUI for Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer While Driving?

Non-alcoholic beers contain very small traces of alcohol. In most cases, a 0.5% ABV is not enough to fall under driving the influence (DUI). However, check local laws on this as this could still vary from one place to another.

Moreover, a police officer can pull you over and still potentially charge you if they investigate and conclude that you are driving while intoxicated and impaired. 

And if you consumed an alcoholic beverage before drinking a non-alcoholic beverage behind the wheel, then you’re already intoxicated and impaired and you shouldn’t be driving at all. A police officer may pull you over and do a breathalyzer test which you may fail when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) 

Conclusion

You should never drink and drive as this puts yourself and the public in danger. Can you drink non-alcoholic beer while driving instead?

With the combination of open container laws and the fact that NA beer looks like a regular can of beer, it’s probably not wise to drink non-alcoholic beer while driving. It can wait. Do you really want to be discussing these technicalities with a police officer?

Angela T.
Hi, I’m Angela! Ever since alternative beverages made their debut, I’ve been on a mission to find the best. As someone who loves wine and making craft cocktails, I approach each new beverage with curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism. I hope these honest reviews will help you learn which non-alcoholic drinks are best for you.