Open Liquor in a Motor Vehicle

Drinking and Driving CounterAttack logoOn a sunny afternoon patrol one weekend I stopped a vehicle that had been exceeding the speed limit. As I approached, I could see two gray haired women in the front and two men of the same vintage in the rear of the car with open liquor in hand.

The men were each drinking a cold beer made no attempt to hide the fact from me.

open liquor on a party bus

Is There a Problem Officer?

The registered owner of the vehicle, a local resident, was one of the males and he exclaimed that he could see nothing wrong with enjoying a drink with his visiting guest as his wife drove the car.

Vehicle is a Public Place

A vehicle being driven on a highway is considered to be a public place rather than private property. Consumption of liquor in a public place is an offence.

This includes vehicles like a party bus or limousine.

Open Liquor in Vehicle

I explained that the liquor was being possessed and consumed illegally and that I would be searching the car under the provisions of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

I had to convince the two to hand over the two open bottles of beer and searched for and seized the balance under very strong verbal protest.

Driver is Responsible

She had not been drinking, but she received the ticket as she was responsible to insure that her passengers were not consuming liquor as she drove.

More Appropriate Places to Consume

Perhaps I have seen too many collisions caused by impaired drivers, but I do believe that there are more appropriate places to enjoy an alcoholic drink than doing so in the passenger compartment of your vehicle while it is being driven on the highway.

In my view it is a very short step between passengers drinking and the driver joining in too.

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... because there is always another hand ...

I remember spending some time in Dawson City YT, back in June 1975. And, at that time, it was totally permissible for passengers in automobiles to have a drink (typically a bottle of beer) in hand. So oftentimes, we did. I remember being one of half a dozen people in a convertible, all with a beer in hand.

Heck, even the driver did, cause they could hand it over to someone else if they were going to be pulled over.

I believe the allowance in the law for this (now long rescinded, I'm sure) was based on the belief that having some sustaining alcohol in a vehicle in the cruel winters up there was necessary.

So ending that practice was probably a good thing, when you think about it.