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Proposal: No open containers for passengers

You and some old college pals are on your way to Charlottesville or Blacksburg for a big game. You’re the designated driver, so it’s only Co-cola or a cup of joe for you while your buddies in the car enjoy something a little…happier.

Those car rides likely will come to an end if House Bill 1614 is passed. That measure, proposed by Del. Harry R. Purkey, R-Virginia Beach, would prohibit possession of open-container alcoholic beverages by the passenger in a car.

Section 18.2-323-1 of the Virginia Code already makes it illegal for a driver to have an open container in a car.

But this measure says no to the passenger area as well. And drivers, designated and otherwise, should pay attention.

The bill states, “An open container shall be considered to be in the possession of the driver of a vehicle if the open container is in the passenger area of a vehicle, but is not in the possession of a passenger. An open container shall be considered to be in the possession of a passenger of a vehicle if the open container is in the physical control of the passenger.”

In other words, if you’re driving and the cops pull you over, and your buddy’s cup of Jim Beam is in the cup holder, you’re in trouble, and face the open-container law. If he’s holding the cup himself, he’s in trouble, and faces a $25 fine.

By Paul Fletcher

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