The Montana Senate has approved a bill that would ban
consumption and possession of open containers of alcohol in vehicles traveling
Under state law, drivers are prohibited from having an open
alcoholic beverage, but passengers 21 years of age or older are free to drink
while in a moving vehicle.
Senate lawmakers voted 45-5 on Jan. 31 to forward the bill
to the House for consideration. The bill, SB80, sponsored by Sen. Gary Perry,
R-Manhattan, would eliminate the open container provision.
Violators would be fined up to $100. No points would be
added to a driver’s license.
Exceptions would be made for passengers in campers, motor
homes, buses, taxis or limousines.
Montana is being forced to spend a portion of its federal
highway money on traffic safety because the state doesn’t have a ban on open
containers of alcohol in vehicles.
The federal government mandated in 2001 that states pass the
provision or spend a percentage of federal highway dollars on public safety
projects such as drunken driving checkpoints and installing cables in medians
to prevent crossover accidents.
This year, the total is expected to reach $6 million if the
provision fails to pass.