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Thread: Not getting busted for open container in a "limo" or "bus"

  1. #1

    Default Not getting busted for open container in a "limo" or "bus"

    quote from Jim Luff
    "I had to get a letter from the Chief of the public utilities commission that ruled we COULD allow alcohol consumption in vans as a licensed charter party carrier. He even cited the California Vehicle Code that makes it legal. We copied this, laminated it and placed it in the door pockets of our vans "just in case"."

    Jim, or anyone who knows, what is that California Code? I've always been curious as to what the exact law on drinking in a limo or bus is.

    1. I assume you can drink in the back of a limo or bus, but what about the front passenger seat?
    2. What about a sedan? I assume they can drink in the back, but what about the front? A taxi cab also.

    A gypsy sedan guy I know just got busted for open container and he was asking me about it. I told him I wasn't sure, but I was pretty sure that passengers were allowed to drink. But that he was screwed because he doesn't have a TCP license. Looking back, I doubt he was that ignorant. He was probably hoping I would help him out in court with my license(fat chance).

    Also, I know an anal driver that won't let passengers(usually parents or teachers) sit up front(when seat is available) because he says it's illegal. I've been on him for years on this, but he won't admit he's wrong until I prove it.
    3. Can a passenger sit in the front passenger seat?(I'd bet my life on it but need proof)
    Tough times don't last. Tough people do.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Cedar Mill Limousine's Avatar
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    Why wouldn't they be able to sit in front? They sit in the front of sedans, SUV's, etc...If it's illegal I would be shocked. Isn't it his burden to prove it illegal? He's assuming everything is illegal and there has to be a law to make it legal. I believe in Indiana (I know you asked about CA) you can have alcohol if there is a divider-so my take was sedans etc. could not have open alcohol.

  3. #3
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    Here is what I always heard...

    Divider in car = alky allowed. No divider in car = no alky allowed. The reason is because without a divider alky could be passed below eye level from front to rear. Not saying that any of this is legal or illegal, this is just what I've heard many times so I fly with it and assume it's the "legal" way. I've also been told that this rule only applies for "Livery" vehicles and not limousines used as personal vehicles.

    Buses are an exeption as long as you have "Commercial" plates. Alky is not allowed in a bus with "Bus" plates (at least in Ohio). A divider or wall is NOT required in a commercial bus when alky in being consumed. This bus rule was told to us by the PUCO guy that did our state bus inspection, so I would "assume" that it is correct.

    I feel that it's odd that a limousine and a bus have differing rules, but this is what I go by.
    Last edited by Digger; September 4th, 2008 at 06:42 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ADAM's Avatar
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    Once again, every state has its own laws that apply. It depends upon how the law was written. In Montana the Open Container law was just passed a couple of years ago. It allows an exemption for "a bus, taxi, or limousine, that is used for the transportation of persons for compensation and that includes the provision of a hired driver". It is not that hard to do a quick research of your state's law. Individual municipalities may have their own laws that apply to their city streets, but the state law should be your guideline.
    Marc Rold
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  5. #5

    Default Open Container Laws by State

    I googled this subject for a few minutes and found a report from earlier this year:

    >>>>>
    February 7, 2008 2008-R-0128
    OPEN CONTAINER LAWS

    By: Janet L. Kaminski Leduc, Associate Legislative Attorney
    You asked for information on the open container laws in other U. S. jurisdictions. Specifically, you asked if any jurisdictions whose open container laws comply with federal requirements include an exception for passengers paying a driver to transport the passengers in a privately owned motor vehicle while the passengers possess open containers of alcoholic beverages.
    SUMMARY
    In 1998, as part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) Restoration Act, a Federal program was established to encourage states to adopt laws that prohibit the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the passenger areas of motor vehicles (23 USC 154). As of February 2007, 43 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have open container laws. Of those, the laws in 39 states and the District of Columbia satisfy the federal requirements, such that they are not subject to a penalty transfer of federal highway construction funds to the state's safety grant program. Six states, including Connecticut, do not have an open container law, but prohibit the consumption of alcohol in certain circumstances. One state, Mississippi, has neither an open container law nor an alcohol consumption prohibition.
    To comply with the federal program, an open container law must meet certain requirements. Among other things, the law must apply to all vehicle occupants. But, the law may provide an exception for open containers of alcoholic beverages possessed by passengers “in the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation” (e. g. , buses, taxicabs, and limousines). Of the 40 federally-compliant jurisdictions, four do not include such an exemption for paying passengers. The other 36 include the exemption as phrased in the federal statute, or some variation of it. Thus, for example, passengers in a registered, permitted limousine operated by a properly licensed driver and in accordance with applicable laws may possess open containers and consume alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of the limousine.
    No jurisdiction exempts open containers possessed by passengers in a privately owned vehicle (i. e. , one that is not designed, maintained, and used primarily for transporting paying passengers) driven by a person passengers hired for the specific purpose of driving them so they can possess open containers and consume alcoholic beverages in the vehicle.
    However, two states (North Dakota and Washington) exempt open containers in the passenger area of a privately owned motor vehicle operated by a person in the course of his or her usual employment and transporting passengers at the employer's direction.
    FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR OPEN CONTAINER LAWS
    <<<

    It goes on to give a breakdown for each state including which states have exemptions for “for hire” applications. I suggest everyone take a look at the link below and review for their state. Table 2 contains the information you seek. It's a long document.


    Just scroll down to Table 2 and find your state. The wording of the "for hire" exemption, if any is listed in the right column.


    The report can be found here:
    http://www.cga.ct.gov/2008/rpt/2008-R-0128.htm
    Last edited by Matt Harrison; September 4th, 2008 at 03:40 PM.
    Matt Harrison
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  6. #6

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    Thanks Matt, I'll read it.

    Jim Luff, where are you when we need you? I know Jim could answer the California answer in a second.
    Tough times don't last. Tough people do.

    Limo Kings Limousine Service
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  7. #7

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    OK, I started to read it and then I got lazy and called my CHP Bus inspector. He said buses, limo's and taxi's can have alcohol for the passengers without a divider. He wasn't sure about the front seat. He was guessing that the front was legal, but told me not to take a chance until further research. He also told me there is no reason a passenger can't sit in the front passenger of a limo or bus if the seat is a legal seat with a seatbelt. He went on to say that if it was a bus(or Excursion limo that is classified as a bus or similar vehicle) that you don't have to use a seatbelt(only the driver) because buses don't require seatbelts. I'm talking about the front passenger seat of the Excursion in this last sentence. But for safety reasons, I'll still make them wear a seatbelt up front.

    Don't forget, this is California we're talking about.

    But Jim, I would love to know the code.
    Tough times don't last. Tough people do.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Limo Padawan Dave M's Avatar
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    Geoff

    This subject comes up every few months. I pointed out the code in this older post:

    http://www.limousinesonline.com/showthread.php?t=6567

  9. #9

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    The Document says the CA exemption applies to:

    “Passengers in any bus, taxicab, or limousine for hire licensed to transport passengers”

    Reading through the document, it does stipulate that passengers must be in a “passenger compartment” in certain states. This is not the case in the CA wording meaning any passenger in any licensed vehicle may have an open container.

    The best thing to do is to see the Police Chief, Police Commissioner or Prosecutor in your town and ask for a copy of the statute.
    Matt Harrison
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    http://goodwillguy.wordpress.com/

  10. #10

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    Oh, and you can still get a drive through daiquiri in good old Louisiana!
    Matt Harrison
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    http://goodwillguy.wordpress.com/

  11. #11

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    Thanks Dave.

    Matt, I try not to ask police to define laws as much as possible. I have found that they aren't lawyers and they tend to define the law on the side that gives them the most power. I say this talking about police that don't specialize in this specific law enforcement. Like asking a street cop about civil law, gun law or limo law. I've had bad luck in the past with faulty information. But the prosecutors office might be a place for a proper answer.

    But, here is the code that Dave provided and to the best of my knowledge passngers are allowed to drink in the front seat also(in California).

    Possession of Alcoholic Beverages: Exceptions
    23229. (a) Except as provided in Section 23229.1, Sections 23221 and 23223 do not apply to passengers in any bus, taxicab, or limousine for hire licensed to transport passengers pursuant to the Public Utilities Code or proper local authority, or the living quarters of a housecar or camper.

    (b) Except as provided in Section 23229.1, Section 23225 does not apply to the driver or owner of a bus, taxicab, or limousine for hire licensed to transport passengers pursuant to the Public Utilities Code or proper local authority.

    (c) This section shall become operative on July 1, 1989.

    Repealed and Added, Ch. 1105, Stats. 1988. Operative July 1, 1989.
    Tough times don't last. Tough people do.

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  12. #12
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    Geoff: You made one very importment statement in your opening that it was A "Gypsy" operator who got busted. One of the requirements in Michigan is that if you have proper authority you are allowed to have alchol in the vehicle. Can't be sure but I do beleive it is still illegal in the front seat or beyond the white line on a Motor Coach.

  13. #13
    Senior Member LIMOJESS's Avatar
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    If drinking on the bus or any limo that sits over 14 people and is considered a bus, the client or we will need to have a banquet permit in order to consume alcohol. Normally I make the client get it from the liquor store for $10 bucks or $20.00 when we have to drive over to get one.

    Again like Adam said every state is different.

    Our towncars are licensed as a limousine so they are allowed to drink in the back, but i would not let them drink upfront. But then again hardly we get people that one to drink in a sedan. That is why they are stretch limos.

  14. #14

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    Earl, thanks for the input. So far from what I've read on the code in my above post and the answer from my CHP inspector I assume that is is legal in the front seat(in California). The next time I speak with PUC, I'll ask them.
    Tough times don't last. Tough people do.

    Limo Kings Limousine Service
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  15. #15
    Senior Member ADAM's Avatar
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    PUC should have nothing to do with it. More likely your Department of Revenue - Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division are the enforcers of that law.
    Marc Rold
    Wild Horse Limousine
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