RVs offer a unique and adventurous way to explore the country, whether you're embarking on a long-distance road trip or seeking the freedom of life on the open road.
Of course, one of the big advantages of traveling around in an RV this way is that you can bring the comforts of home with you on the road; it's your hotel, house, and car all in one. But can you drink in an RV?
Can You Drink in an RV?
It's natural to wonder whether all of the comforts of home can truly be enjoyed in an RV — including the thirst-quenching pleasure of cracking open a beer or sipping a glass of wine within the confines of your vehicle. But, the question of whether you can drink in an RV is not one with a simple answer.
You might think that drinking in an RV is totally fine, so long as you're not the one behind the wheel...but the truth is more complicated. The consumption of alcohol while on the move is regulated in a different way from the consumption of alcohol at home.
It's essential to know the law in order to successfully comply with it; after all, the last thing you want is an officer issuing a ticket for you and your family after you unknowingly violate open container laws!
The Lowdown on Open Container Laws
What are open container laws? Put simply, open container laws are state laws that regulate public drinking — or, depending on the jurisdiction, prohibit it. Most states in the US prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public, except in designated areas.
Exceptions to the Rules
Some cities and counties within the United States, like Clark County, Nevada (which hosts the Las Vegas Strip), actually permit public drinking with a few exceptions. And public drinking is permitted throughout the state of Indiana.
Can Passengers Drink in a Moving RV?
Open container laws also prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages by those in moving vehicles — regardless of who is driving. Currently, 39 states possess stringent rules regarding open containers in vehicles.
Some states ordinarily renowned for more permissive laws in some areas, like Texas, are quite strict in the application of open container provisions; a driver can be cited for an open container violation if someone else is drinking while you're parked on the side of the road.
Bigger Exceptions to the Rules
There is a silver lining for passengers who fancy a tipple while an RV is in motion while traveling in or through certain states: If you're on an RV road trip and traversing Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Rhode Island, Tennessee, or Virginia, you can drink if you're a passenger.
And, while passengers are not permitted to drink in an RV while it is driving through Arkansas or West Virginia, they can possess an open can or bottle. It's important to be aware that there are caveats, even in more permissive situations.
Why You Need to Know the Law
Overall, understanding how different states' open container laws apply to RV travel and the passengers within those vehicles is crucial to ensure compliance with the law, especially with so many conflicting laws and policies that change the moment you cross state borders.
For instance, yes‚ — passengers can have an open container and drink while in an RV in Virginia. However, if the vehicle is pulled over in VA, and passengers have a drink in hand? Well, police might make a presumption that the driver could've been drinking, too. Such a violation carries with it the risk of a fine (which is the case for most states) or possible jail time.
So, as a general rule, if you're a passenger drinking in an RV in Virginia? It's probably smart to enjoy your beverage as far from the driver's area as you can!
Be aware that even in more permissive Arkansas or West Virginia, you'll want to be careful.
Police or state troopers might easily presume a passenger with an open container, which is permitted, has been drinking in violation of state law...and it may be difficult to prove that a passenger was not actually drinking, even if they're telling the truth.
It's Not All Bad News
If someone has opened a bottle of wine or a beer at a campsite before your RV gets on the road again? One thing that is generally allowed is for that container to be stowed/stored in the vehicle's fridge while it's moving.
As long as it's not being taken out of the fridge and consumed while the RV is actually in motion, you probably needn't worry about getting a ticket.
Your Best Bet? Save the Drinking for Later
Of course, the most obvious (and ultimately best) solution when it comes to being in compliance with open container laws while on the road is to save the drinking for the campground — especially if you're crossing one or many state lines with different levels of open container permissiveness.
With the vehicle turned off and hooked up at a campsite, you're good to go, so long as you're not drinking out of glass bottles where those aren't permitted. This is also the best way to ensure the driver can partake in the fun as well without violating any laws or endangering any lives!
Even Then, Be Aware and Be Careful!
Keep in mind that if you're parked or boondocking overnight in an area that's considered public property, state open container laws may still apply.
Different states have different regulations for what is and isn't permitted when boondocking, so be sure to do your homework before anyone cracks open a cold one, even when an RV is parked and the engine long cold while boondocking.
This means that even if you're camping in a Walmart parking lot, drinking is likely not allowed. Sorry!
Stay Safe on the Road with Cruise America
Since the rules surrounding holding open containers and drinking alcohol in an RV that's in motion vary from state to state, knowing where you can drink in a moving RV — and where you can't — is very important.
But now you're more familiar with open container laws and how they affect whether you can drink in a moving RV, and you're ready for the next step: Becoming more familiar with Cruise America and why your next RV road trip should be in a Cruise vehicle!
Cruise America's modern RV rentals are packed with amenities sure to make any road trip as comfortable and enjoyable as can be. If you're ready to hit the road, get in touch with Cruise America today!