RVs are vehicles, but they’re also very different than cars, especially motorhomes where you can ride in the back while someone drives. But can you have open alcohol in an RV?
In all states, the driver cannot have open alcohol in an RV motorhome. But some states allow others to drink if they are in the passenger area of a motor vehicle and not sitting near the driver. Open containers of alcohol would generally be allowed anywhere when parked at a campground.
But there’s a lot more to know. Read on.
In this article, we’ll explore if it’s okay for passengers to drink alcohol in a moving RV and whether you can drink while it is parked. But we’ll also check out whether you can carry open containers of alcohol in an RV. And we’ll look at the laws state by state.
Let’s get started.
Can passengers drink alcohol in an RV while moving?
In most states, any open container of alcohol in moving recreational vehicles is considered an illegal open container. Even though it is also used as a dwelling, an RV is a vehicle, and drinking alcohol in a moving vehicle is illegal in many, but not all, states.
Now, some states are more lenient than others.
In some states, passengers can drink. In some, they can drink if they are in the living quarters of the RV. So, you want to know what the law says before you hit the road.
It may not be illegal in your state or the state you’re driving to or through, but you don’t want to have a suspicious cop questioning you.
Seeing as it’s illegal in a lot of states, be on the safe side, keep your drinks locked up until you’ve reached your destination, and have the RV parked. Then, you and your passengers can put your feet up, and avoid an open container violation.
And if you’ll be staying at a campground, their regulations supersede any state laws because they are privately-owned properties. Some campgrounds allow alcohol, while others don’t, and there are those that only allow certain types of alcohol.
By the way, can you park your RV in a parking lot?
This is the theme of a recent article. In it, I looked at whether it’s okay to park your RV anywhere and if paid parking lots allow RV parking. But I also revealed whether paid parking lots charge more for RVs.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Drinking organic @vinecol Torrentes in an RV park in Maryland first time in the US. This wine is AWESOME!!! pic.twitter.com/T7m27RSjDi
— TheTriton Collection (@Tritonblog) June 22, 2016
Can you drink in a Class A, B, or C RV while parked?
As a general rule, it is legal to drink alcohol in a Class A, B, or C RV while it is parked at a designated campsite. However, it may not be legal if the RV is simply parked on the street or in a parking lot.
Of course, you and those drinking with you should be of age, and alcohol consumption should be allowed where you are parked.
There is no law that states that you cannot drink when the RV has been parked. If the criteria stated above are met, you and those with you are free to drink responsibly.
They’re worth restating:
- The state you’re in allows alcohol consumption
- The RV is parked in a legal place
- You and those with you are 21+
- If it’s a campground or any other public place, alcohol consumption is allowed at such a place
What if you’re sleeping in your RV, can you get a DUI?
In a recent article, I looked at whether it’s legal to drink while in an RV and if you can get a DUI for sleeping in an RV parked in a bar’s parking lot. But I also explored if you can be charged with being under the influence of alcohol for sleeping in an RV parked on the street or along a public highway.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Nice selection of #wine for our #motorhome #winecellar aka hole in the floor #vanlife #travel #budgettravel #travellers #roadtrip #vino pic.twitter.com/r59bETiQ3z
— Our Bumble (@OurBumble) July 24, 2017
Can you carry open containers of alcohol in an RV?
In most states, it is illegal to have an open or partially empty alcoholic beverage that the driver or the passengers have access to. But a previously opened bottle of wine or liquor can be stored in a kitchen pantry or cabinet. Open alcohol can always be stored in a towed motorhome as passengers cannot ride in a towed RV.
Basically, most state laws want to ensure the driver of a motorhome can’t have a partially empty drink within easy reach, even if you’re not drinking it at the time. It’s better covered and stored away in a place the driver or other passengers can’t have access to. You don’t want to arouse the suspicion of a police officer, right?
That suspicion could easily become probable cause to search your RV.
But there are states, such as Alaska, California, and Connecticut that allow passengers (not the driver) to consume alcohol while the RV is in motion. But in other states, doing so could risk a possession of an open container charge.
In Florida, the size of your RV is one of the factors that are pertinent in determining if passengers can crack open a bottle while you drive.
Thinking of living full-time in an RV?
Before you sell everything you own and say goodbye to city life, you’ll agree it’s smart to find out the pros and cons of living full-time in an RV.
That’s what a recent article of mine is about. In it, I shared the pros and cons, looked at whether RVs are ideal for long-time living, and what it’s like to live in an RV full-time. I even revealed whether it’s legal to live in an RV.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
How do open container laws vary from motorhome vs. towable camper?
Open container laws vary significantly between motorhomes and towable campers.
Motorhomes are considered to be a vehicle, and as such, open container laws apply to them in the same way they do to any other vehicle. This means that it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the driver’s seat or any other area of the motorhome where the driver can reach it.
And in many states, it is also illegal for anyone else in the motorhome to have an open container of alcohol in their possession.
Towable campers, on the other hand, are not considered vehicles and therefore do not fall under open container laws.
This means that it is legal for people inside a towable camper to possess and consume alcohol as long as its parked at a campground. It is never legal for people to ride in a towed camper while it is in motion.
In addition, some states have specific laws regarding open containers in recreational vehicles (RVs).
These laws may vary from state to state but generally prohibit having an open container of alcohol in any area of an RV that can be accessed by someone who is driving or operating a vehicle.
Do you recall this drunk driver who managed to turn over a motorhome in July on the M60?
They’ve been in court recently and disqualified for 28months, 150hr unpaid work as well as an alcohol order banning him from drinking for 120days. (To be monitored by probation) #RPUwest pic.twitter.com/O9BDo3L3O3
— GMP Traffic (@gmptraffic) September 28, 2021
Do alcohol laws for RVs vary by state?
Yes, alcohol laws for RVs vary by state.
A common rule is that the driver cannot drive and drink at the same time. But some states allow passengers to drink while others do not. And there are states that allow passengers if they are not sitting in the front with the driver.
The below table shows what the law says in a few key states:
|States||Alcohol Laws as it Pertains to RVs|
|Texas||It is legal to drink as long as you’re in the living quarters of your RV. The living quarters of a motorized house coach or motorized house trailer, including a self-contained camper, a motor home, or a recreational vehicle are not included in the law against open containers of alcohol in vehicles.|
|Illinois||It is illegal for any driver to transport, carry, possess, or have any open alcohol container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle upon a highway.|
|Montana||It is legal to drink as long as you’re in the living quarters of your RV.|
|California||Passengers are allowed to drink provided that they are 21 or over and have no legal alcohol restrictions.|
|Minnesota||No person may legally consume alcoholic beverages whether they are the driver or passenger, regardless of where they are in the motor home while on a public road.|
|Michigan||The law prohibits both drivers and passengers from transporting or possessing an open container of alcoholic liquor in an RV.|
|Ohio||The law prohibits both drivers and passengers from consuming alcoholic liquor in an RV. This prohibition applies when an RV is being operated or is stationary on any street, highway, or other public or private property that is open to the public for vehicle travel or parking.|
Are there exceptions by law in certain states on open alcohol in RVs?
When it comes to open alcohol in RVs, there are exceptions by law in certain states.
In Florida, passengers are allowed to drink as long as the motorhome is 21 feet or longer. California has a different rule, stating that neither the driver nor the passengers can be prosecuted under their open container laws.
However, drinking as the driver is still illegal and if any of the passengers are under 21, then this exception is exempt. The regular vehicle open container law must be followed by properly storing all alcohol while in motion.
In addition to state laws, there are also many dry counties across the country that do not allow alcohol consumption.
Driving through these areas isn’t usually an issue but if you plan to camp in an unfamiliar location, it’s best to check if you’ll be in a dry county or any of the various public lands or county and state parks that don’t allow alcohol.
It’s important to note that even with exceptions by law in certain states for open alcohol in RVs, it’s still illegal to drink and drive and all passengers must be of legal drinking age. It’s also important to follow all local laws and regulations when consuming alcohol while traveling in an RV.
It’s best to check with local authorities before consuming any alcoholic beverages while on the road.
What about open containers of alcohol driving an RV through a dry county?
If you are driving an RV through a dry county, it is important to be aware of the laws regarding open containers of alcohol.
In most states, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a vehicle. This means that if you are driving an RV through a dry county, you should not have any open containers of alcohol in the passenger area.
Even if you are not consuming the alcohol, having an open container in the passenger area could get you in trouble with law enforcement.
It is also important to note that even if you are not consuming alcohol, transporting it through a dry county could still get you in trouble. Depending on the jurisdiction, transporting alcohol through a dry county could result in fines or other penalties. It is best to check with local authorities before attempting to transport any type of alcoholic beverage through a dry county.
In addition to being aware of local laws regarding open containers and the transportation of alcohol, it is also important to be aware of which areas are considered “dry” counties.
Certain parts of the United States such as the Deep South and mountain west are more likely to have dry areas so make sure you aren’t doing anything illegal before driving through them.
Finally, it is important to remember that even if you are not consuming any alcohol while driving your RV through a dry county, having an open container or transporting any type of alcoholic beverage could still get you into trouble with law enforcement.
Make sure that all containers are sealed and that no one is consuming any type of alcoholic beverage while driving your RV through a dry county.
In the article, we explored if it’s okay for passengers to drink alcohol in a moving RV and whether you can drink while it is parked. On a long road trip, a beer or cocktail, or glass of wine at the end of the day sounds great! But being aware of the laws is crucial to that not turning into a drunk driving charge due to possession of alcohol.
But we also checked out whether you can carry open containers of alcohol in an RV. Then, we looked at the alcohol laws of a few states, as it relates to RVs.
But bear in mind that state and federal laws aside, there could also be local laws to be aware of.
It’s worth noting that while I am an RV owner, I am not a lawyer or peace officer. Therefore, my article should not be considered legal advice. That is especially true given I am in Texas and the laws where you are could vary from Texas law. Laws can also change at any time. If you need legal or professional advice, you should seek out a qualified professional in your area.