Can You Carry Open Alcohol in an RV?
You grab that open bottle of alcohol from the cabinet and put it in your RV for the drive to the lake. Is that okay? Will you be fined or arrested if you’re caught with it?
People are often confused about the open carry laws when it comes to their RVs. So we’ve done some research to help you better understand how they affect you.
Let’s dive in!
Open Container Laws
Each state creates its own open container laws regarding alcohol. Generally, they state that no open or partially empty alcoholic beverage may be in a vehicle where the driver or passengers have access. This means you can carry that partially used vodka bottle to your friends’ party if you leave it in the trunk of your car.
However, some states, such as Alaska and Connecticut, have exceptions to this rule and allow passengers to consume open alcohol.
On the other hand, RVs often fall into a different category, typically with hired transports such as limousines or party buses. Most states’ rules for RVs essentially say that open alcohol containers can be in the living space of a motorhome.
This still doesn’t mean your passengers can be drinking while you’re driving, though.
Other factors come into play when transporting or sometimes even storing alcohol in your RV. We discuss them further below.
Motorhome vs. Towable
First, let’s clarify that when we say RV in this case, we’re usually talking about a motorhome. However, in some situations, the laws apply to towables as well.
In particular, storing and transporting alcohol – opened or not – in certain areas. Do not assume that carrying your alcohol in your travel trailer is okay to do anywhere.
Open Alcohol in a Parked RV
The laws often specifically prohibit open containers in a vehicle, moving or not. However, the law considers an RV a residence once parked.
This is true for both the U.S. and Canada.
That said, parking on the side of the road is certainly not considered being parked, and some state codes specifically include such wording. In fact, you may not even be able to legally pop that cork while overnight camping at a rest area, Walmart, or other big box store’s parking lot.
If you do, keeping it inside your rig is probably a good idea.
Whether part of the law’s text or not, parked means set up at a valid campsite. It doesn’t matter if you’re boondocking on BLM land or parked at the finest RV resort, but you must have your RV set up as a ‘house.’ Of course, there are always exceptions.
Exceptions to Open Alcohol in Your RV
As always, there are exceptions to the rules. For example, Florida allows passengers to drink only if the motorhome is 21 feet or longer. California states that neither the driver nor the passengers can be prosecuted under their open container laws. However, drinking as the driver is still illegal.
In addition, if any of the passengers are under 21, the exception is exempt. Then you must follow the regular vehicle open container law by properly storing all alcohol while in motion.
You’ll also find many dry counties across the country. Driving through these areas isn’t usually an issue. That said, if you plan to camp in an unfamiliar location, we recommend checking to see 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.
Another exception is the individual campgrounds. Owners have the right to prohibit alcohol usage completely on their property, even if you’re inside your RV. So be sure to read and follow the rules or risk getting kicked out or even arrested. If in doubt, ask.
It’s Legal to Have Alcohol in Your RV – Generally
While you’re driving your RV, your passengers can drink alcohol in some states. Most, though, want it safely tucked away in the fridge or cabinets until you arrive at your campsite. When parked, it’s a matter of your location and if they allow alcohol at all. So be sure to check local laws, property rules, and state laws before you load up on all that beer. As for having the alcohol out and open while you’re driving? It’s always better to be safe and leave it stored in the back.
ALWAYS, do your own research on state hosted websites for the most accurate and up to date information.
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