Drinking a Beer or other alcoholic drinks in a MH

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Nov 21, 2006
8)  Has anyone been ticketed for carrying and or drinking alcohol in thier MH.  Is it legal for my wife to have a beer on the couch while i am driving to a destination? Whats the deal??
(Like your name)

It depends on the law in whatever state you are in at the time but most states have what is known as an "open container law" which makes it illegal to have an alcoholic beverage open in the vehicle. Obviously this would not normally apply when the motorhome is parked and set up to camp but many campgrounds even have restrictions on alcohol.

I think I heard that in Texas it is a distance thing.  The open container has to be a certain distance from the driver.  You can drink in limos and private buses, but maybe it's because they are commercial.

IMO if you don't flaunt it, then you probably won't have a problem.  If you drink your mimosa from an insulated cup rather than a fancy goblet, you will probably go unnoticed.  If you are being pulled over you should have plenty of time to down it or pour it out.

This is from Texas in 2001.

Does the motor vehicle have to be moving for a violation to occur?
No. Under the law, a person commits an open container offense by possessing an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. There is an exception for people who are passengers in a bus, taxi, or limousine; or who are in the living quarters of a motorized house coach or motorized house trailer, including a self-contained camper, motor home, or recreational vehicle.

Coffee-holic here but consider this... When a Motor Home is parked on a camp ground it is on private property,  Unless you are overnighting at a Wall Mart or Flying-J Type location (Includes many stores other than Wally World or the "J") , or on National (Government owned) land or State Park, you are most likely parked on a private campground.  Police are not to enter a private campground unless 1:they are invited by management or a resident or 2: They come in as customers. (not as police)

And if you are in any of the government camping sites listed (or not) above,,, Most all them have no booze rules.

That said... I often wonder why folks like to drink pure poison so much.  We get all upset about how many US citizens come home from Iraq in a box, or how many came home from Viet Nam in a box, or how many came home from ___(insert war of your choice)__ in a box.

Alcohol puts more folks in boxes every year than any 3 wars, and it's an equal opportunity killer, Men, Women, Children, Elderly, Black, White, Other.  Don't matter, it kills without discrimination.

That said, I'm a coffee holic because I can't stand the taste of booze
This from the CA DMV website:

23226.  (a) It is unlawful for any driver to keep in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened, or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.

(b) It is unlawful for any passenger to keep in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, when the vehicle is upon any highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened or a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed.

(c) This section shall not apply to the living quarters of a housecar or camper.

Based on that, keep the booze out of the driver's cab including the suicide seat, and you are cool in CA. 

It's a good thing I have a TT so I can keep a bottle of scotch with a broken seal in it.  ;D  I doubt that the police would bother someone in a motor home with an unsealed bottle unless they had reason to suspect it was being consumed too. 
John: Add #3 if you are in Idaho. A LEO can enter private property (eg: An RV campground) if they have an articulable suspicion that a crime is in progress, there. ("Articulable suspicion" is "Probable Cause.")

In my volunteer work, I have provided that "articulable suspicion" at a campground, here, between two city parks. The manager was very grateful! (We have stayed there, many times, in our motorhome.)

They can also continue an active pursuit through private property. Done that, too. (Except that as a volunteer, even if I am in uniform, I am not authorized to "pursue." I am authorized to "follow."  ???  ::)  ;D  )

Shortly after we got our first motorhome, about four years ago, I ask a cop I work with about open alcohol containers in a motorhome. He said if the container was in a front seat, or could be reached from there, and the vehicle was on a public road, moving or not, he would cite. He wasn't sure, but thought it was legal, in the fridge. In any case, he said he wouldn't look in the fridge, unless he suspected there was other contraband in there, and then he would ignore any open container of alcohol. Also, he noted that he doesn't do traffic patrol, and would have to refresh his memory, if he were asked to do that type of work and had to deal with a motorhome.

Ray D
In Florida, I believe it's OK if it's not within reach of the driver. A friend operates a "party bus" with a bar and server aboard with no problems.    Of course in Key West, you're fine unless you pour a drink on a cop's new shoes.
Thanks Ray, I forgot that one, yes, an LEO can enter private property if they observe (or has proper cause to believe) a crime in progress or in what is called "hot pursuit"

Of course what some cops call "Hot Pursuit" I call a very cold trail,  But that is another matter

Example... If an officer hears a woman screaming words that indicate she is being raped or about to be,  Doors won't slow him down in entering that property.

True very hot pursuit story... The suspect jumped out of his car and ran into an apartment house,  Trooper exited patrol car and chased him up the steps, the suspect slammed the door and the trooper did not even break stride.  Meanwhile the other trooper parked and secured the patrol vehicle.  Trotted (not a all out run) up to said door, reached through the hole his partner made when he went through and opened the locked door from inside, went in and assisted his partner in extracting the fleeing felon.

Yup, just like the cartoons, he did not even slow down when he hit the door.

Reviewing the situtation after the fact.  (Including a lot of info I am not taking the time to type here) he made a very good cihoice in going through that door as nobody got hurt,  And if he'd not have been quite so impressive... Someone (Most likely him, and a lot of felons, who were discouraged from becoming felons by the manner of his entry into the house)  As for his partner.

Well, Hd'd have been the one hurting the felons, But that too, is another story  (man is good friends with folks like Chuck Norris and can dance with bad dudes,,, Just like Walker, Texas Ranger)
In Texas Alcohol can be carried in the area behind the last forward facing seat.  Typically the forward facing seats are considered a motor vehicle and the area in a motor home behind the forward facing seats in considered your home and subject to the same protection. 
I never drink and drive. While parked- thats another story. If you conduct yourself accordingly- no problem
John in detroit, I don't think the wars are to blame for having alcohol in a motor home, Plus maybe you drinking throat cancer with all that coffee you drink.

My grand mother is 98 years old and has a glass of wine each night for years, doctors say thats probly why she has life at 98.

I didnt ask you about anything regarding the wars, but thanks for your comment.
You guys are getting way off the track from the original topic. This has nothing to do with war (whichever  one that may be), hot pursuit, or anything else other than having open containers of alcohol in an RV. Please restrict your comments to the subject at hand, or start a new topic. Thanks.
Boy did this tread get of the track fast.  As stated before, every state has a "Motor Vehicle Law" which dictate what can and can't be done.  Although they all use the "Uniform Traffic Law" as a guide, each state does have their peculiarities.  The best source is your state DMV.  I think they are all on the web.

In IL where I was an LEO you could have an open container of alcohol as long as it was not available to the driver.  In a passenger car you can't have it anywhere.

So, yes, your wife can enjoy a beer on the couch while your driving down the road in IL.
These threads whether about alchohol or weight or length or whatever all ways seem to come down to state specific in most cases so all the discussion just fills some time. However, I thought I might throw out another angle. I have sons/daughters/daughter in laws in law enforcement and spent some time myself many decades ago. Whenever, one of these topics come up I usually in a causal conversation when in prescence of family members or old freinds in law enforcement ask their opinion. Most have very limited memory of laws as they apply to motorhomes and more to my point usually make a comment that they never bother with a motorhome under most circumstances in any case. It seems to me that California is an exception especially when it comes to length but if one thinks of all the motorhomes going through states over length, over width, improperly loaded, improperly licensed , etc we live a charmed life. About two years ago, I was speeding through Indianapolis after just coming off the flat lands into the city and not slowing down when a patrol car in the median doing radar from rear hit his brakes lights a couple of times to tell me to slow down and that was it.  ;D
Hi Leo,

Your family's "perception" of Rvers is very much that which I have observed. I have seen several "triple tows'" in states which do not allow it but LEO's just fly right by them. We do live a charmed life and I hope fervently that we do nothing to change that priviledge! I try at all times to stay within the laws of the country but am thankful that we are given a state of forgiveness for minor infractions.

One time I was driving my car towards the National Seashore outside Titusville. I was slightly over the speed limit due to not concentrating. Suddenly I saw flashing headlights ahead of me. It was the local LEO and he was warning me that I was a little over the posted speed. Never went over it since!
Maybe they overlook some but not always.  Last year on our way back to Yuma from Houston we saw a triple tow pulled over and they were measuring length and looked like they had those portable scales out too.  Small pickup pulling a three axle fith wheel with a car behind the fiver.  I just felt he deserved to be picked up.  I think this was in NM but might have been west TX
But I don't think the third vehicle can be a car.  Besides he was obviously over weight and over length which puts anyone around him in danger.

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