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Can RV Passengers Drink Alcohol While It’s Moving?

Can RV Passengers Drink Alcohol While It’s Moving?

Many campgrounds permit alcohol, but can your passengers drink a beer or sip some wine while you’re driving your RV there?

You might think the answer is a resounding ‘no.’ But we’ve done research that says, sometimes, ‘yes.’ Can passengers crack open a can while driving down the I-9 in Florida?

Let’s find out!

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Moving RV? 

First of all, in no circumstance is it legal for the driver to consume alcohol. Because of this, most states don’t permit alcohol to be present in the driver or passenger area of an RV. If a driver can reach it, the passenger shouldn’t have it. 

But to answer this question completely, we must consider the passenger’s location in the RV, the length of the RV, and the laws of individual states. Remember, we’re talking about motorized RVs (Class A, B, and C) and not towables (travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, teardrops, pop-up campers, and truck campers).

3 woman cheersing their beers.
The location of the passenger drinking in your RV will help determine whether or not they can legally drink.

What Factors Determine Whether Passengers Can Drink Alcohol in a Moving RV? 

Because motorized RVs are homes on wheels, passengers could be riding in different parts of the RV. Different states have different open container laws. Some states base their laws on the length of the RV. All of these factors determine whether passengers can drink alcohol in a moving RV.

You may decide that it’s not worth the risk and just leave your alcohol safely stored away. But if your passenger wants to enjoy a glass of wine while you’re traveling down the road, note the important factors below.

Pro Tip: Once you reach your RVing destination, make sure you can legally drink there too. Read more to discover: Is It Legal to Drink In National Parks?

Man drinking wine in a moving vehicle.
Each state has different open container laws, so make sure to research the rules before you start your happy hour.

Location of Passenger

The majority of states don’t allow passengers in the front of the moving vehicle to consume alcohol. The driver should not be able to reach an open container. However, it’s important to check each state’s laws regarding this matter. For example, in Texas, a passenger in the rear of a motorhome isn’t included in open container laws.

Other states have similar exemptions. And then there’s Wisconsin, which has a much stricter policy and doesn’t allow passengers in the front or back to consume alcohol. 

Length and Type of RV

The magic number seems to be 21 feet. Louisiana and Florida permit passengers in the back of a moving RV to consume alcohol only if the motorhome is at least 21 feet.

This would rule out some smaller Class B camper vans. Other states don’t consider the length of the RV at all.

These laws relate to motorized RVs and not towables. A passenger in the backseat of a truck can’t drink a glass of Merlot no matter what they’re pulling.

Couple drinking in front of their RV.
If your motorhome is at least 21 feet, passengers can drink in the back of the RV while driving.

The State and State Laws

Most states have laws that prohibit the possession and consumption of open containers while driving a vehicle. Mississippi is the only state that has no such law. And then there are six states — Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia — that have laws prohibiting the driver from drinking alcohol but not the passenger. 

In California, passengers in a “housecar” or camper are exempt from prosecution unless minors are present in the vehicle. It’s best to do a quick search as you travel to make sure you know the individual state laws.

Pro Tip: Step up your RV happy hour game with one of these 7 Best Summer Cocktails For RV Camping.

Know the State Laws

There are no federal laws regarding open containers in vehicles. Instead, individual states determine what’s legal. Because of this, you must know the state laws.

While driving through Illinois, the passenger can have an open container, but is it still legal once you cross into Missouri? Do your research and know the individual state laws.

Is Drinking Alcohol While Riding in an RV Worth the Risk?

That’s up to you. Just remember, police have the right to search a vehicle if they see or smell alcohol, even if it’s not from the driver. And if you’re in one of those states with stronger open container laws, you could be in big trouble.

Legal verbiage can be confusing with all of the exemptions and jargon. That may lead many to avoid bothering to take this risk at all. It might be easier just to wait until you get safely to your campground. Have you ever opened a cold one while on the road?

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