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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Indiana Law - The open container law

Some quotes from an editorial today in the Helena, Montana Independent Record:

A poll commissioned by the Montana Contractors Association shows that two out three voters favor a law barring open containers of alcoholic beverages from motor vehicles. When the poll asked a further question stressing the state could lose more than $6 million a year in federal highway construction money if it doesn't pass an open-container law, the approval rate jumped to 77 percent. The figures were roughly the same for Republicans, Democrats, and independents.

Somehow, though, that public sentiment hasn't swayed legislators. Last year, once again, lawmakers balked. An open-container law died in committee and an attempt to blast it onto the floor, an effort requiring a supermajority, didn't even get a majority.

In this, the state is swimming against the national tide. Montana is one of only three states that let motorists drink and drive. The others are Mississippi and Indiana. In Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming passengers, but not drivers, are allowed to drink. (The governor of Louisiana recently signed a bill removing that state from this category.) Three states, Arkansas, Colorado and West Virginia, allow open containers in vehicles but nobody's supposed to drink from them! None of these state pass muster with the federal rules, which consider exceptions to an outright ban to be unacceptable loopholes.

Here is Indiana's law: IC 9-30-15. Open Alcoholic Beverage Containers; Consumption of Alcohol in Motor Vehicles. As reported in this AP story in the Louisville Courier Journal dated 1/14/04:
Indiana's current law allows passengers to have open containers of alcohol as long as the driver has a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 percent or lower half of the amount at which a driver is considered drunk under law.
This section of the open container law caught my attention:
IC 9-30-15-4. The operator of a motor vehicle who knowingly consumes an alcoholic beverage while the motor vehicle is being operated upon a public highway commits a Class B infraction.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 27, 2004 11:26 AM
Posted to Indiana Law