General > Climbing NOT (Bitch & moan, Politics)

Open Container Laws

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I've thought about this for years and think the legal system does not treat open containers in an educated fair & balanced way. The penalty for having an open container in NH:

When a person is found guilty of violating the open container law, he will be fined $150 and, if it is his first violation, have his driverís license or driving privileges suspended for 60 days.  If the driver has had a previous open container violation, his license or privileges will be suspended for one year.

Let me begin with what I agree with:

1) Operators of motor vehicles should have a BAC under .08% or what ever the legal limit is according to their state government to avoid "DWI".

2) Operators who are pulled over for other driving infractions; speeding, running a red light, swerving, etc should be under .04% to avoid "DUI". The .04% threshold is also in place for commercial drivers.

What doesn't make any sense is it is 100% legal for me, a 178 pound male to drink an average beer and jump in the car and drive 15 minutes home. My BAC for this at the highest saturation would be .02%. If I was to shotgun two average beers I might hit .04%, which is still legal unless you are a working commercial driver.

However if I was to head home from a day of work, climbing, hiking, what ever, and pick up a six pack and open one for the last 15 minutes of the drive home, I would be breaking the law and subject to harsh punishment despite how low my BAC (and in direct relation my danger to the public) actually is. In reality I would be far less dangerous than someone texting (which is only illegal in some states and almost never prosecuted). Drinking 1 beer while driving will not increase risk any more than sipping coffee during your morning commute, so why the demonization?

The main argument I can see for supporting a "no open containers law" is;

"Allowing open containers will increase drunk driving"

The vast majority of DWI's got inebriated at the bar or at a party, then got behind the wheel... don't see how allowing open containers would change this.

Solution 1: Add this clause, "Having an open container in a vehicle means the driver must submit to a field sobriety test and field breathalyzer no matter what the traffic violation was"

Solution 2: Add this clause, "Having an open container and a BAC over .08 DOUBLES the penalty for DUI/DWI, fines, jail time, loss of license, etc."

Increase the penalty for people actually risking the public, reduce the amount of litter on the sides of the road, and let me sip a normal beer on the last 10 minutes of my commute with out feeling like a criminal.

On a somewhat related note I've been noticing over dramatic commercials on TV showing that Maine has a "no smoking in cars with minors in the car law". I think that is AWESOME and hope NH adopts it. Teenagers are one thing but babies in car seats with Mommy or Daddy smoking up front piss me off...

The state could solve its budget problem if they would just offer draft beer as you went through the toll booths, with maybe a spliff on the side or a line to keep you awake while heading home after a long weekend. Of course there would be some extra expense cleaning up the carnage.

If you get caught with an open container, you need to get better at hiding it  8)

Figured this would generate some comic responses but I am wondering if any one else really thinks it's a bit silly... or thinks it's absolutely necessary... or thinks it's a complete waste of time discussing cuz' nothin's gonna change...

Strand, getting caught shouldn't be an issue as it shouldn't be illegal to have an open container. How can it be legal to shotgun a beer then drive, but not sip on one while behind the wheel? Seriously makes no sense...

Sprague, think the law is needed for some reason I am missing?

My point is the getting open container is evidence against you, .If it weren't illegal to have an open container, you could still be pulled over.


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