Can you be drunk in charge of a motorhome?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you be drunk in charge of a motorhome? We will discuss the law surrounding alcohol in a motorhome, discuss the fines given for conducting under the influence, and elaborate on the idea of drinking at a campsite. 

Can you be drunk in charge of a motorhome?

Under no circumstances you can be drunk in charge of a motorhome. Drinking and driving is a criminal offence. It is legal to drink as a passenger only behind the driver of the motorhome, as long as no containers, empty or not, are within reach of the driver.

Each year, approximately 15,000 people have their driver’s licenses immediately suspended due to drunk driving. Drinking and driving is reprehensible behaviour, punishable by law, which not only has significant repercussions on professional, social and personal life, but also significant financial impacts which are sobering.

As soon as the offence is discovered, the offender is ordered to pay a minimum fine of $1,000 (section CVC 23152 of the Criminal Code). This conviction, which requires the immediate suspension of the driver’s license, leads at the same time to the seizure, towing and storage of the vehicle of the person caught at fault. These fees can reach more than $ 6,000.

Main costs associated with a first conviction for being drunk in charge of a motorhome:

Fine typeAmount
Minimum fine$ 1,000
Towing the vehicle$ 100
Vehicle storage$ 20 (per day)
Additional insurance contribution and for obtaining a new driver’s license$ 300
Impact on private automobile insurance$ 1,500
Attorney fees$ 350 / hour (average)
Installation of an alcohol ignition interlock device (if authorized by the judge)$ 1,300

Can the passengers in a motorhome consume alcoholic beverages?

Generally speaking, a passenger cannot consume alcoholic beverages in a moving vehicle. But, the truth is that it also depends on local laws and the state where you are. However, it is mandatory that everyone with a driver’s license cannot drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Most states have laws that prohibit the presence of open cans, bottles or containers of alcoholic beverages (even if they are empty) on the street and inside cars. By default, a passenger who is consuming an alcoholic beverage is also in possession of an open alcoholic beverage container.

There are seven states that do not have laws regulating the possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages, among them are Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut. But there are local ordinances in some of these states that do prohibit open containers of alcohol.

And three states have laws on the possession of open containers of alcohol, Alaska, Louisiana and Tennessee, but they do not fully comply with the federal regulations of TEA-21.

As long as there are no local ordinances that prohibit having an open alcoholic beverage in vehicles, passengers in states that do not have specific laws can.

It is even possible in some states to consume alcoholic beverages in a moving vehicle. Mississippi is the most tolerant of them, allowing drivers to drink as long as they are below the legal blood alcohol concentration limit.

Some municipalities have established exceptions to these open container laws in an effort to boost local tourism. 

For example, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, but most of these ordinances do not allow open containers of alcohol in vehicles (they are limited to the sidewalk and the street). The French Quarter is famous for its cold cocktail vendors by the window and allows both drivers and passengers to have open containers of alcoholic beverages in their cars, as long as the driver is not drinking.

Can you drink alcohol at a campsite?

While camping, adult guests may bring alcoholic beverages with them or order them from the property bar to have a good time. However, if they are drunk and cause disturbance to other patrons or facility staff, they may face punishment and risk being placed in a nearby police station sobering-up room.

All public places have a law to obey, and since common areas within a campsite are private places accessible to the public, they must then impose this same law. According to the Public Health Code, if an intoxicated individual behaves strangely, noisily and is dangerous to those around him, he is breaking the law and is liable to a fine. 

As in any public place, driving under the influence of alcohol on a campsite is prohibited. If such cases become apparent, you can contact law enforcement who will ascertain the facts. 

Adult campers found to be drunk can be taken to the police station and pay a fine of $150. If he is a minor, he will be returned immediately to the responsible adults. The manager of the establishment can demand the final and sudden departure of the person concerned.

Each resort has internal regulations with instructions to be followed by customers. The management transmits its information to customers at the time of their reservation. In general, consuming alcohol at a campsite is not really prohibited, except during festivals. 

However, campers and their visitors are not allowed to get drunk even on their pitches or on the terrace of their mobile home and even less in common areas. Most campgrounds in many countries like the US even prohibit the consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages. People who do not respect the rules of the establishment are expelled. They even risk punishment if they interfere with public order.

Conclusions

It is recommended to check what the law says in your state about the possession of open alcohol containers in your vehicle since laws vary. And if you go on vacation to a new place, you should know how to proceed in these cases.

If you or a family member is arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or for driving under the influence (DUI), it is advisable to seek the help of an attorney.

Also, it is important to speak with an attorney familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction, as the laws are different in states and some cities.

An attorney can explain local laws to you and will review all the evidence in your case, including the procedure and results of sobriety and chemical tests, to ensure that your rights are protected.

Please let us know if we can be of any help or if you have any suggestions on the content. 

FAQ on Can you be drunk in charge of a motorhome?

Can you have open alcohol in an RV?

You should not have open alcohol in an RV. Most states have laws that prohibit the presence of open cans, bottles or containers of alcoholic beverages (even if they are empty) on the street and inside cars. By default, a passenger who is consuming an alcoholic beverage is also in possession of an open alcoholic beverage container.

Can you walk around in an RV while driving?

You can walk around in an RV while driving if you need to go to the toilet, for example. However, you should stay in your chair with your seatbelt on. An accident can happen at any time, so you must be careful. 

Can you sleep in a campervan drunk?

Unless you are stationed somewhere for the long-term, you should be caught sleeping drunk in a campervan. You could be arrested and lose your licence for being “drunk in charge” of a motorhome on “public domains”. 

Can you drink in an RV in California?

In California, you can drink in an RV if you are the passengers. This state prosecutes neither the driver nor the passenger under the open container laws. Of course, make sure you are legally aged to drink!

References

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