Indiana House approves ban on open containers

| 2/9/2005

The Indiana House has forwarded legislation that would ban consumption and possession of open containers of alcohol in vehicles traveling public roadways. The bill would also free up $20 million in federal dollars for improving Indiana roads.

Current state law allows passengers to drink in a vehicle so long as the driver’s blood-alcohol content doesn’t exceed 0.04 percent.

House lawmakers voted 72-26 Jan. 31 to eliminate the open container provision.

Violators would be fined $25. The offense would not count against a driver’s license or insurance.

The bill – HB1057 – sponsored by Rep. Cleo Duncan, R-Greensburg, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Exceptions would be made for passengers in limousines and recreational vehicles.

Indiana is one of 14 states 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.

Last year, $15.2 million in transportation money was used for alcohol programs, The Associated Press reported. The state has diverted $65 million from roads since fiscal year 2001.