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Author Topic: Is it legal for passengers to drink in an RV?  (Read 12454 times)
Dakell12
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« on: February 23, 2008, 06:49:15 PM »

I've had a hard time locating an exact answer to this 50-state question. Anyone have a good answer?
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Songman
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2008, 07:27:22 PM »

Some states have open container laws but I don't know about passengers drinking being illegal. If they are, half of the music business buses running the roads are in trouble! haha.. There is nothing illegal about a passenger being drunk so I would guess that other than the open container law it wouldn't be a problem. But you know that all you have to do is get the wrong cop on a bad day...
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belfert
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2008, 07:45:26 PM »

I've done some research on this issue and as best I could figure the area rear of the driver is considered a house and not a motor vehicle.  Thus, it is legal to drink behind the driver as long as no containers, empty or not, are within reach of the driver.

My bus still has the dividers seperating the driver's area from the passenger area so it makes it easy for no alcohol to be within reach of the driver.  I let the passengers drink on my first trip.  I now wish I had told everyone it wasn't legal to drink as one passenger drank way, way too much.

We made darn sure whoever was driving was completely sober.  The core group that did most of the driving either don't drink or are the type who might have one drink a day.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2008, 07:52:07 PM »

Some states have open container laws but I don't know about passengers drinking being illegal. If they are, half of the music business buses running the roads are in trouble! haha.. There is nothing illegal about a passenger being drunk so I would guess that other than the open container law it wouldn't be a problem. But you know that all you have to do is get the wrong cop on a bad day...

I am pretty sure I recall that there is a legal difference in that matter between a commercial vehicle with a professional driver and a RV.  On a commercial vehicle with a professional driver, passengers can drink.  I assume this would include leased/rented limos and coaches with professional drivers (hence there are actually a few celebrities that haven't been to jail  Wink ).  But in a private RV (which would include motorhome licensed bus conversions) the same laws that apply to autos are in effect.  The latter being, no open containers in the vehicle.
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2008, 08:00:49 PM »

I know one thing for sure-- it is absolutely legal in all 50 states for passengers not to drink in an RV.  I would not claim to be an expert on the reverse, hence no drinking.   Further, I consider it to peoples benefit to have the self discipline to do without alcohol or other  recreational drugs for a few hours.  So as far as my passengers are concerned, it is strictly verboten.
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cody
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2008, 08:05:35 PM »

At last a subject I can give information on, technically, you cannot drink in a privately owned and operated moving vehicle, regardless of the type, according to michigan statute. This only applys to michigan, I'm retired from state law enforcement in michigan and thats the way it is there.  Once that vehicle stops motion it is a private residence again and let the party begin, unless it's stopped at a stoplight on a public thoroughfare.  The open container law doesn't apply in regards to multiple serving items such as a bottle of brandy, single serving containers such as a bottle of beer are not allowed to be consumed while in motion.  That defines the open container part of the law, but regardless, in michigan all consumption must be done while the coach is stationary. Vehicles licensed to transport can also be licensed to include alcohol consuption as long as the driver is commercially licensed and separate from the area of consumption.
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cody
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2008, 08:09:51 PM »

To clarify the open container part of the law, an opened bottle of brandy in a cabinet would be ok during a check but an open can of beer in a cup holder could result in a ticket.
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belfert
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2008, 08:25:06 PM »

I know one thing for sure-- it is absolutely legal in all 50 states for passengers not to drink in an RV.  I would not claim to be an expert on the reverse, hence no drinking.   Further, I consider it to peoples benefit to have the self discipline to do without alcohol or other  recreational drugs for a few hours.  So as far as my passengers are concerned, it is strictly verboten.

The last bus trip I did was 36 hours straight through for a just under 2,000 miles one way.  We had four drivers and switched every two to four hours.  On the way back we did spend a night in a rest area as everybody was too tired to drive.  It took around 40 hours to drive home.

That said, I should have just told everyone that drinking was not allowed when on the road.  We used to make the same trip in a crew cab pickup or a conversion van and we would drive 24 hours and then stay overnight in a hotel.  Everybody made it 24 hours without alcohol.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2008, 08:35:34 PM »

24 hours without alcohol, what a slave driver !!!

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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2008, 08:40:21 PM »

The last bus trip I did was 36 hours straight through for a just under 2,000 miles one way.  We had four drivers and switched every two to four hours.  On the way back we did spend a night in a rest area as everybody was too tired to drive.  It took around 40 hours to drive home.

That said, I should have just told everyone that drinking was not allowed when on the road.

How many hours did each driver go dry before their turn at the wheel?

It's scary when you stop to think about how many drivers of large heavy vehicles drink either while driving or immediately before driving. (for that matter it's scary how many drivers of any kind do that)  When I lived in west Texas, there was a certain market in Monahans where oil field workers would stock up for their day each morning.  This included the guys driving the heavy trucks and tankers.  They generally took a twelve pack of beer each out with them every day.  And here in Tennessee, I've watched dump truck drivers go into convenience stores in the morning and come out with twelve packs of beer, climb in and pop one open.
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2008, 08:51:56 PM »

The last bus trip I did was 36 hours straight through for a just under 2,000 miles one way.  We had four drivers and switched every two to four hours.  On the way back we did spend a night in a rest area as everybody was too tired to drive.  It took around 40 hours to drive home.

That said, I should have just told everyone that drinking was not allowed when on the road.

How many hours did each driver go dry before their turn at the wheel?

Many hours.  I don't drink at all and one of the other drivers I don't believe drinks either.  The other two drivers maybe each had one or two drinks the entire trip.  I won't mention how much the three who didn't drive drank.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
niles500
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2008, 09:24:41 PM »

I think there is a little misinformantion here - I know of no state (not saying there isn't) that includes the living area of a MH in their open container law -

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/New-fact-sheet03/OpenContainer.pdf

http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/alcohol/OpenContainer/preliminary_data.htm
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2008, 10:07:29 PM »

Both of the NHTSA documents says an open container law does not have to apply to the living area of a motorhome to qualify the law as meeting federal requirements.  This is not to say a state cannot add the living quarters of a motorhome to their open container law.

My research showed that the living quarters of a motorhome is generally considered anything behind the driver's seat.

I need to research the open container laws again.  I agree with the folks who say the best thing is not to consume alcohol while on the road.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
Sean
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2008, 10:25:13 PM »

I'm not sure I understand what the OP means by "50-state question."

If he means he wants one answer for all 50 states, then the answer is unequivocally "No," because there are at least several states that prohibit consumption of alcohol in any private vehicle while being operated on a public roadway.  And, yes that applies to RV's, and no, the exemption that most states grant to buses and limousines operating pursuant to a PUC or DOT certificate (and therefore, of course, operated by a properly licensed CDL driver subject to random drug and alcohol testing) does not apply to private RVs.

That being said, some states may permit it.  But it is, quite definitely, a matter of state and not federal law.

The feds, in their usual trick to end-run around the constitutional prohibition against meddling in the strictly intrastate transportation affairs of the states, passed legislation mandating that states pass fairly stringent open container laws, and, as usual, the way they induced compliance is by threat of withholding federal highway funds.  Since no state can afford to lose that funding, all states end up complying, eventually, with these types of federal mandates.

Important to note here, and this goes to Niles' comments (Niles posted some links to those same federal mandates), states are absolutely free to make their alcohol laws more restrictive than the federal mandate.

Cody has already pointed out that you'll get busted for this in Michigan.  I can vouch that you'd be busted in California as well.  I'm aware of several other states that fall into this category, but without looking them up, I don't want to go out on a limb here.  And bear in mind that in many states (California is one), both the driver and the person drinking can be cited.

Note that many (most?) states have a limited exemption for open containers stored in the living quarters.  That exemption does not generally apply to consuming the beverages while under way.  As Cody has written, the intent is to allow you to keep that half-finished bottle of Merlot in the cabinet, but finding half a beer in a cupholder is probable cause to see if you've been drinking.

But, hey, Louisiana has drive-through daiquiri bars (really).  So YMMV, etc..

-Sean
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niles500
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2008, 01:50:56 AM »

CALIFORNIA CODE

23225.  (a) (1) It is unlawful for the registered owner of any motor
vehicle to keep in a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any
highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section
23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic
beverage  that has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of
which have been partially removed, unless the container is kept in
the trunk of the vehicle.
   (2) If the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk and is not an
off-highway motor vehicle subject to identification, as defined in
Section 38012, the bottle, can, or other receptacle described in
paragraph (1) shall be kept in some other area of the vehicle that is
not normally occupied by the driver or passengers.  For the purposes
of this paragraph, a utility compartment or glove compartment shall
be deemed to be within the area occupied by the driver and
passengers.
   (3) If the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk and is an
off-highway motor vehicle subject to identification, as defined in
subdivision (a) of Section 38012, the bottle, can, or other
receptacle described in paragraph (1) shall be kept in a locked
container.  As used in this paragraph, "locked container" means a
secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key
lock, combination lock, or similar locking device.
   (b) Subdivision (a) is also applicable to a driver of a motor
vehicle if the registered owner is not present in the vehicle.
   (c) This section shall not apply to the living quarters of a
housecar or camper.



23226.  (a) It is unlawful for any  driver to keep in the passenger
compartment of a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any highway
or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any
bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage
that has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have
been partially removed.
   (b) It is unlawful for any passenger to keep in the passenger
compartment of a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any highway
or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any
bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage
that has been opened or a seal broken, or the contents of which have
been partially removed.
   (c) This section shall not apply to the living quarters of a
housecar or camper.


MICHIGAN LAW (Uses the term "passenger compartment")

Sec. 624a.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who is an operator or occupant shall not transport or possess alcoholic liquor in a container that is open or uncapped or upon which the seal is broken within the passenger compartment of a vehicle upon a highway, or within the passenger compartment of a moving vehicle in any place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles, in this state.

(2) A person may transport or possess alcoholic liquor in a container that is open or uncapped or upon which the seal is broken within the passenger compartment of a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles in this state, if the vehicle does not have a trunk or compartment separate from the passenger compartment, the container is enclosed or encased, and the container is not readily accessible to the occupants of the vehicle.

(3) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor. As part of the sentence, the person may be ordered to perform community service and undergo substance abuse screening and assessment at his or her own expense as described in section 703(1) of the Michigan liquor control code of 1998, 1998 PA 58, MCL 436.1703. A court shall not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere for a violation of this section from a person charged solely with a violation of section 625(6).

(4) This section does not apply to a passenger in a chartered vehicle authorized to operate by the state transportation department.

**** Although MI statutes are hard to find and rather convoluted, they do claim to comply with Federal standards which include the MH exemption - Not saying that is so though, Michigan is kinda screwy, they outlawed fuzzy dice - LOL



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