Indiana House approves ban on open containers

| Wednesday, February 09, 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.