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What is the point of "open alcohol container" laws?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Marlat, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Can someone explain to me what the rationale of open alcohol container laws is?

    I don't get it, I totally understand laws that don't allow you to drive with a certain amount of alcohol in your blood (ie anti-drink driving), but, for example, in Australia and the UK it is legal (although not advisable) to drive whilst drinking a beer provided you are below the legal limit. However, it seems that if you merely have an open alcohol container in your vehicle, you can get pinged in the US. What is this law protecting against?

    Can a passenger drink alcohol in a car whilst you are driving sober?
  2. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA
    Perhaps they only want to discourage temptation.
  3. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    In some states it used to be permitted for a passenger to drink. I don't know if those laws still exist.

    I guess it's keeping temptation to drink and drive out of the car. Blame it on our prudish lawmakers.

    If I buy an $80 bottle of scotch and take it my inlaws, have a dram, you can bet it's coming back home with me.
  4. doctorjazz


    Oct 22, 2006
    Wilmington, NC
    Completely pointless, but it does make driving with a beer in your cupholder slightly more amusing (Protip: Cover it with your jacket when driving through busy areas).
  5. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    Empty containers can be easily made by discarding (i.e. drinking) all the evidence before the officer approaches your car.
  6. No, a passenger cannot drink. It would violate the open container laws.

    The laws are overkill, and make no effort to distinguish between someone swigging rum out of a bottle with one hand while driving with the other, and someone bringing home an expensive bottle of Scotch from a Xmas party, even if said bottle is wrapped up and packed away in the trunk.

    America has a streak of Puritanism in its culture, and it shows up here and there; this is one example.

    I mean, what other modern, Western nation would even consider a complete prohibition of alcoholic beverages. We actually tried it here. (As a sidenote: it didn't work.)

  7. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    I think The Man doesn't want you to spill yer beer
  8. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    There is usually an exemption for open alcohol containers that are in the trunk (not easily accessible by the passengers).

    I sometimes travel with hundreds of opened alcohol containers in the passenger compartment (of a van) on my way to my local recycling center. I haven't been stopped while doing this, but it can be clearly seen that they are being transported for recycling.
  9. It pertains to the passenger compartment, you can put it in the trunk.

    Also, the open container law has to do with how fast we metabolize alchohol. There's a delay between drinking and your blood level being over the legal limit. With no booze in the passenger compartment, chances are the blood alchohol content wont go up, only down. It's based on science and safety, not puritanism :rollno:
  10. Why do I even poke my nose into Off Topic? :)

    Hey, I think you should invite me over for a visit. I'd love to check out your basses. I'll bring along an open container.

  11. FLKnifemaker:

    I'm in Lakeland, too. We may have even met already.

    My apologies to the thread. Back to topic.

  12. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    Science doesn't assume I will drink the booze, puritanism assumes I have to self control since I drink in the first place and I have to "hide" it out of sight.
  13. Whether I label it "Puritanism" or not, I think America is much more conservative on the matter of alcohol. Prohibition was one example. Drinking ages are noticeably lower in many parts of Western Europe than most of America.

    On one trip abroad, a friend asked why America got so upset over teenagers drinking. In Sweden, it was considered a rite of passage and, apparently, not too big a deal--even at the age of 14. "After all," he said, "you let teenagers own guns and drive cars." My reponse was: "That's why we we're afraid to let them drink. They all have guns and cars."

  14. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    It's designed to cause mock-confusion in lawyers.


    HELLonWHEELS Supporting Member

    Jun 13, 2005

    put it in your trunk.
  16. That's gross. Fenderhutz: you DO NOT have to do that just because he told you to.

  17. Lorenzini


    Dec 31, 2004
    Los Angeles

    I think the law exists to prevent anyone from drinking at ALL in the car, theoretically reducing drunk driving accidents.
  18. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    So would putting a breathylizer on everyones ignition.
  19. ogrossman


    May 20, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I think the definition of "overkill" gets a little fuzzy when alcohol is involved in 40% of traffic fatalities.
  20. Sometimes I throw around words. My wife's been victimized by drunk drivers twice. I don't take the problem lightly. I could rephrase it as: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, and that would sound supportive of the argument, but say much the same thing.

    I would call it overkill because it doesn't distinguish between someone who constitutes a social problem (i.e. a drunken driver who is a danger to others) and someone merely moving an open bottle of liquor from one location to another, even if they've never had a drink in their life.


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