In this article, we will explain the following question: Can you drink in an RV? We will discuss the law regarding alcohol consumption in a vehicle and the exceptions regarding it.
Can you drink in an RV?
You can drink in an RV as long as you are not the driver, do not plan on driving the RV, and you are parked at a campsite. Needless to say, it is illegal and a criminal offence to drink and drive. It is legal to drink behind the driver as long as no containers, empty or not, are within reach of the driver.
In general, in most states, you would be breaking the law if you consume alcohol in the following places:
- In a motorhome/RV/trailer/caravan that is on the move.
- On a public sidewalk.
- Inside your own parked car.
- At the entrance or in the common hallway of your building.
- On school property.
- In a residential neighbourhood.
- In the parking lot of a beach.
Laws governing open containers of alcoholic beverages are designed to reduce injuries caused by drunk, intoxicated, or under the influence drivers and to control outrageous behaviour.
Cities that allow alcoholic beverages in public in almost all their spaces:
- Sonoma, CA
- Savannah, GA
- Indianapolis, IN
- New Orleans, LA
- Gulfport, MI
- Las Vegas, NV
- Hood River, OR
- Erie, PA
- Fredericksburg, TX
- Fort Worth, TX
- Arlington, TX
Cities that accept alcohol consumption only in their local entertainment areas:
- Huntsville, AL
- Birmingham, AL
- Montgomery, AL
- Mobile, AL
- Louisville, KY
- Kansas City, MO
- Lincoln, NE
- Memphis, TN.
Can the passengers of an RV 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.
Regulations on the possession of containers with alcoholic beverages in public
Some states allow open alcohol containers only in safe places in your car, such as in a closed glove compartment or where luggage is stored.
A total of 43 states have laws to regulate the consumption of alcoholic beverages and their possession in public. And 40 of them use as a basis the criteria established by the United States Department of Transportation included in the TEA-21 (Transportation Equity Act). These federal provisions control how to proceed with the possession of alcoholic beverages in open containers and their consumption in public.
For example, it is very likely that the driver of a vehicle will receive a citation for possessing a container with alcoholic beverages, or for having it close to his reach. But if it is the passenger who holds the open glass, then both the driver and the passenger could be summoned. In any case, the blood alcohol concentration of an offending passenger is irrelevant.
State exceptions for drinking in an RV
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.
Can a passenger consume alcoholic beverages in an RV if there are no laws prohibiting it?
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.
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 drink in an RV?
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!
Can you drink in a van?
You shouldn’t drink in a van. 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.
Can the driver get a DUI if the passenger is drinking?
No, the driver cannot get a DUI if the passenger is drinking. This, of course, depends on the laws in each state, but as long as the passenger is not managing the vehicle, you are safe.