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Author Topic: Is it legal for passengers to drink in an RV?  (Read 12624 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2008, 05:21:53 AM »

I think it's pretty simple really. Just keep all booze in the fridge or cabinets out of sight. One should never allow consuming alcohol while any vehicle is in operation. Just plain stupid.

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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2008, 06:54:10 AM »

And one must be concerned about other bodies of law...

In Ontario, motorcoaches are violating parts of the Liquor Control Act, by way of the licencing of establishments serving alcohol, etc. By allowing the consumption/serving of alcohol without the appropriate licence... like a bar serving without a licence.

This has been one of those "look the other way" unless there is a problem kind of things. The driver is stuck, as he has liability, but the tip is in jeopardy if he tells the group to stop...

Damned if we do, damned if we don't, the laws do come in handy for putting a stop to foolishness if it breaks out, so having it changed may actually hinder regaining control, for a commercial driver anyhoo...

Easy enough for a busnut, no drinking while underway, no problems.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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cody
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2008, 09:06:48 AM »

Most states seem to leave room for interpretation by the courts, thats why I stressed the difference between an open beer in a cup holder and the opened bottle of brandy in a cabinet, assessability can lead to the presumption of consumption.  Easy solution is to wait till your at your campsite and then relax and open the cooler. Why create a situation that could other wise throw a monkey wrench into your vacation.
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2008, 10:01:54 AM »

In Florida the driver has to have a CDL to carry passengers in order to have passengers drink. Party bus -limo law if you will. Otherwise against the law.
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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2008, 10:03:04 AM »

CALIFORNIA CODE

23225. ...
   (c) This section shall not apply to the living quarters of a
housecar or camper.


23226.  ...
   (c) This section shall not apply to the living quarters of a
housecar or camper.


Niles,

As I said, California law permits the open containers to be stored in the living quarters.  Here's the code section that is relevant to the OP's question:

Quote
Drinking in Motor Vehicle

23221.  (a) No driver shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle upon a highway.

(b) No passenger shall drink any alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle upon a highway.

Amended Sec. 2, Ch. 723, Stats. 1999. Effective January 1, 2000.


Note that Section 23221, which prohibits consumption of alcohol by any person in a vehicle "upon a highway" (what California calls any public road), contains no exemption for "living quarters."  What a police officer chooses to use as evidence of a violation of Section 23221(b) is a matter of his or her judgment, and you'd have to sort it out in court later.  If you are pulled over in California, and the officer finds what amounts to an open container of alcohol in the "constructive possession" of a passenger (such as an open beer in a cup holder), you can and most likely will be cited for a violation of 23221(b).  When you get to court, whipping out the "living quarters" exemption of completely different statues (23225 and 23226) will do you no good whatsoever until you have established that your passenger was not actually drinking at the time, or that whatever the officer used either as probable cause or as prima facie evidence of such consumption was incorrect.
[It has been pointed out to me, below, that section 23229(a) actually does exempt housecar living quarters from 23221(b).]
 
Many other states have similar legislation:  there are limited exemptions for storage of open containers in the living quarters, but those exemptions, by themselves, do not permit consumption while under way on a public road.

-Sean
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« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2008, 10:45:00 AM »

and in Lousiana, after going through a drive through daquiri bar, they define open container as having removed the paper from your straw.  If the paper is intact, you're ok.  amazing, especially in this day and age.
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« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2008, 12:46:36 PM »

If they are, half of the music business buses running the roads are in trouble! haha..
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.

Just a clarification here... Every tour bus (music artist bus) I have ever traveled on has been registered as a Private Coach and the drivers do not carry any special license. In fact, in most cases the members of the band take turns driving. The only exception I have to this is Travis Tritt. All of his buses are registered commercial and he has licensed drivers who handle all the driving. I'm sure most law enforcement agencies know this and could be buttheads about it, but maybe it is just a courtesy. So if/when stopped, most artist buses are held by private coach laws.
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« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2008, 01:31:38 PM »

Hmmm.  I am thinking an iced down keg in the locked bay underneath, and a new plumbing system running to the upstairs.  Raises a whole new area of bus conversion questions...   Is PEX suitable for the lines, or is copper better?  Where can I get a CO2 pressure gauge for my dash?  What's the proper ratio for sizing my waste tanks?   Grin
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« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2008, 03:24:00 PM »

Possession of Alcoholic Beverages: Exceptions
23229.  (a) Except as provided in Section 23229.1, Sections 23221 and 23223 do not apply to passengers in any bus, taxicab, or limousine for hire licensed to transport passengers pursuant to the Public Utilities Code or proper local authority, or the living quarters of a housecar or camper

You have to read the entire statute - In California "living quarters of a housecar or camper" are exempt - HTH
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« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2008, 04:05:00 PM »

23229.  (a) ... Sections 23221 and 23223 do not apply to ... the living quarters of a housecar or camper


Missed that one.  I stand corrected, with regards to California.  (I had remembered this section only dealing with certificated carriers.)

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« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2008, 07:31:31 AM »

All those entertainers/band buses running around, with whatever registrations and whatever drivers, are doing it for one simple reason: Avoid the proper costs of doing business.

No log books, no mechanical fitness, low levels of insurance, unqualified drivers, cheap plate tags.

Even more fun when the coach is a lease job too!

This group, more than any other, stand to ruin it for the busnut community, if the worm turns, since it is us they are trying to masquerade as...

Hide the guitars?

happy coaching!
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« Reply #26 on: February 25, 2008, 07:45:47 AM »

As buswarrior points out, when a bus is hauling people from or to a paid performance, it is in commercial service.
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« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2008, 07:51:40 AM »

Good luck finding a lease band bus that will let you drive without a commercial license. Most lease buses come with driver's included as a matter of fact.

But I agree about the big conspiracy of entertainers trying to ruin it for private owners. They have been on a 60+ year crusade to do just that. Those bastards... Those are the guys who started the bus conversion hobby. I think it is us masquerading as them instead of the other way around. And just like the rest of us the laws have been changed to try to take more and more money out of their pockets. The laws are written with grey areas that work for them. No different than the rest of us.

A lot of assumptions made but I will address a couple. Even Travis with his commercial buses don't have to keep log books. And globbing all the drivers together as unqualified is a little pretentious. I have seen those guys work those buses into places I wouldn't take my pickup and never put a scratch on the coach. Most of them can drive circles around us 'bus converters' that apparently are more deserving then them.

And the 'one simple reason' of avoiding the proper cost of doing business. Sheesh! We all know about the proper cost of doing business that really equals how much the government can screw you out of. There is nothing proper about it. If they were breaking laws it wouldn't be so dominant. Like I said, they are in a grey area that allows them to do it. Nothing wrong with that. Anyone who wants to look down on it should look at all of the grey areas they themselves are riding in.
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« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2008, 07:56:06 AM »

As buswarrior points out, when a bus is hauling people from or to a paid performance, it is in commercial service.

Are you sure about that? I know if the bus owner/company is being paid to haul people it is commercial. I don't know of the law that says that if the inhabitants get paid at their destination that it makes the bus commercial. The bus is not making any money. There are no ads on it. It is no different than if all the guys hopped in a van or carpooled.

I'd like to see the law that pinpoints it. I am not saying it doesn't exist, just that if it does it seems like it would be enforced. Yeah, I guess this is a bit of a sore spot for me. They've been doing it for 60 years and now all of a sudden they are infringing on us. I don't think so.
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« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2008, 08:44:48 AM »

It's called dablling in "Interstate Commerce"!
I was one of the first to point out to a lot of the Nashville and California guys that just because it has an OR Private Coach Plate and the entertainer pays the driver, it is still working in interstate commerce and is subjet to all of those laws. 
Man some of those guys were mad!  I thought one was going to run me out of town on a rail!  Or as Kyle says, I thought the "Buckshot Bees'" were going to be chasing me!
About the only thing they don't have is a Passenger Endorsement on their CDL because most of them only transport 6 to 8 bandmembers, not the 15-passengers plus the driver that makes the Passenger endorsement required.
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« Reply #30 on: February 25, 2008, 08:52:00 AM »

ignored by the enforcement community the same as other issues. Not worth the effort, the reward is not worth the risk in a bureaucratic world.

My point should have been clearer, just because everyone is doing it, doesn't mean it will stand up to rigorous scrutiny of the statutes.

And that usually follows a triggering event.

No matter, hopefully whoever is doing that overnight drive after tear down had some sleep, and wasn't part of the stage crew earlier in the day...

happy coaching!
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« Reply #31 on: February 25, 2008, 09:10:17 AM »

I'm not talking garage bands. We don't do teardown. That's what roadies are for.

Like I said, it's been this way for over 60 years. The laws (if any) were changed to get money from working people.

No matter... Sometime people just have to disagree... back to our regularly scheduled bus nut conversation.
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« Reply #32 on: February 25, 2008, 09:46:50 AM »

Anyone can research the laws for any area in North America but I just looked up the legal definitions that apply to commercial vehicles in Alberta. I expect that similar definitions apply in most jurisdictions. Note that there is no mention of charging a fare in the definition of commercial, just that the vehicle is used to provide transportation and does not meet the requirements of a private passenger vehicle.

   “commercial vehicle” means a vehicle operated on a highway by or on behalf of a person for the purpose of providing transportation but does not include a private passenger vehicle;

    “private passenger vehicle” means a vehicle used solely for personal transportation,
     not including, in respect of a person’s business, work or employment, the carriage of passengers or of goods, except for sample cases or display goods that are conveyed by a salesperson and that are not for delivery or resale;
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Hodag
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« Reply #33 on: February 25, 2008, 04:56:23 PM »

Nice lawyering, Niles.  You are correct about Calif. law.   As you know, I should know.

Bryan
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