Legislation dealing with open alcoholic beverage containers in Wyoming was recently given preliminary approval by the state Senate after being amended to separately address recreational vehicles.
The Associated Press reported that the bill would make it illegal for anyone in a moving vehicle to have an open alcoholic beverage. Current state law allows passengers, but not drivers, to have open containers.
Legislation to ban open containers passed the Senate last year but failed in the House over concerns that it would have exempted passengers in recreational vehicles. This year, the proposed legislation would require alcohol in moving RVs to be secured in locked containers.
The Senate accepted an amendment to allow open containers carried in RVs to be carried in “secured” containers, instead of requiring that they be locked.
Senate President Grant Larson, R-Jackson, said he owns an RV. He said only some RVs are equipped with locked compartments.
Noting that RV drivers come to Wyoming from around the country, Larson said, “We simply can’t have it where they have to pull over at the state line and empty everything out.”
The Senate rejected a proposal from Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, that would have exempted recreational vehicles entirely.
With RVs costing up to $500,000, Burns said that people who own them aren’t going to jeopardize their investment by driving while intoxicated.
He said state records show there have been no alcohol-related fatalities involving RVs in the state during the past two years.
Saying that tourism is Wyoming’s second-biggest industry, Burns said that by passing a law requiring alcoholic beverages to be secured in RVs, the state is going to wind up with a new class of unwitting criminals. “They’re not going to be aware of this law,” he said.
The bill needs two more votes in the Senate before it heads to the House.