Drinking in a Motorhome Laws: Can You Drink in a Moving RV?

Driving an RV is hot and hard work. It stands to reason that when the temperature rises, you want to reach for a cold one to stay alert and fresh. But if you are driving that cold one better be juice, milk, ice tea or a soft drink. Passengers may not have other options even though they are not driving.

Can You Drink in a Moving RV? While there are exceptions, open container laws apply to motor homes when they are being used as a motor vehicle and transporting people from one place to another. For the most part, no you cannot drink alcohol while in a moving RV.

To get more details on this important topic, just continue to read our article. It goes in-depth to make sure you know exactly what you can and cannot do with alcohol when in a moving RV.

Drinking Alcohol in a Moving RV


In most states, the answer to this question is no. Open container laws apply to all moving RVs regardless of their size except for one exception. To be allowed to drink in a moving RV the motorhome has to be over 21 feet in length.

While this exception exists, it is advisable that passengers refrain from drinking alcohol when your friend or loved one is driving. In the worst-case scenario, it is possible for passengers to be given a ticket or arrested for violating the open container laws of any given state.

The fine for violating the laws may be $100 or more and up to 30 days in jail in some states. South Carolina doesn’t have the exception clause in its statuettes so be careful when driving through that state.

It is best to check the laws of each state before you drive through them to make sure it is legal for passengers to drink while resting in the back of the RV. In Ohio, the only vehicle you can drink alcohol in as a passenger is in a chauffeured limousine.

So you really should check the laws of each state and do not assume they all have the same rules and regulation on this issue.

Drinking in Motorhome Laws


We have given you a couple of examples of drinking in motorhome laws already. South Carolina has a fine of $100 or up to 30 days in jail if you violate their RV drinking laws.

Florida allows alcohol consumption by passengers only if the RV’s length exceeds 21 feet. Georgia may be as strict as South Carolina and does not allow anyone to drink alcohol in a moving RV.

Wisconsin doesn’t allow drinking of alcohol by either passenger or driver no matter how long the RV is. They do allow it to be consumed if the vehicle is designed to carry 16 or more passengers or it is a chauffeured vehicle.

Now private campgrounds are a different matter. You are allowed to drink in an RV if the RV is not moving and being used as what is called a domicile. Open container laws do not apply when this situation is taking place.

But since campgrounds are usually privately owned, they make their own rules and you may or may not be allowed to consume alcohol while on their private property. You would need to check and read the campground rules before paying your fee.

Also, you may need to be careful when you camp on public lands. The ranger or police officer may demand to search your RV to see if you are in violation of alcohol laws. Each area may be governed a bit differently.

Then the final area you should be aware of is when you are driving through what is called dry regions. These regions can be counties, townships and other smaller jurisdictions and they do not allow alcohol at all in their boundaries. Even if you are merely transporting the beer, etc., you can be fined for breaking their dry laws.

Yes prohibition has been overturned, but these communities never got the memo or ignored it if they did.

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Motorhome in Canada?


If you are planning a trip to Canada soon, you really should check with the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) before you head north. The reason for this advice is that rules change and what was not allowed last month or last year may now be allowed.

You need to be careful when at the border crossing as some RV owners have been asked to step outside while border custom officials used their dogs to search the vehicle.

As it stands at this writing you are not allowed to bring a lot of alcohol with you in your RV when you cross the border. You are allowed only 2 750 milliliter bottles of wine. One 1.14 liter of liquor and 24 bottles or cans of beer, no larger than 355 ml each PER adult.

Like America, the rules for drinking alcohol in your RV may change depending on the attitude of each province. It is best to check with local authorities before you try drinking while the RV is moving and you are only a passenger.

Can You Drink in an RV in California


Under the California legal code, number 23223 no passenger is allowed to be drinking alcohol in an RV. There are some exceptions to this and it may depend on who you talk to concerning the information you are given.

Some people say it is okay as long as the RV is considered a home or living quarters and others say no. Then there are some people who say that drinking is okay while the RV is moving as long as the alcohol is out of the driver’s reach.

It is advisable to not open up any alcohol while your RV is moving in the state and if you are on public lands, then you better be as careful as it seems to be outlawed as well when stationary.

Some people get a little smart-alecky and say everything is legal until you get caught but that is the wrong attitude to take. Check with the CHP offices to make sure your passengers can drink while you drive your RV.

What About Michigan or Ohio


We mentioned Ohio earlier, and that state seems to have some very stiff anti RV drinking laws. The vehicle you can drink in as a passenger must be a chauffeured limo and RVs do not qualify as a chauffeured limo.

Michigan is one of 39 states that has an outright ban on open containers in vehicles. Since motor homes or RVs are licensed motor vehicles they may fall under that ban as well.

What that means is that even a passenger cannot drink from an open alcoholic container while the RV is moving through the state of Michigan. The only exception to this ban seems to be for RVs that measure over 21 feet in length.

The Michigan statute says—257.624a Transportation or possession of alcoholic liquor in a container open or uncapped or upon which seal broken; Violation as misdemeanor; Exception.

Sec. 624a. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who is an operator or occupant shall not transport or possess alcoholic liquor in a container that is open or uncapped or upon which the seal is broken within the passenger compartment of a vehicle upon a highway, or within the passenger compartment of a moving vehicle in any place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles, in this state.

States take drinking very seriously and it is a wise move to make sure you know and obey all open container laws while in your RV.

Can You Drink in the Back of a Moving RV


What seems to be the usual exception to the open container laws and drinking in an RV is if the vehicle is over 21 feet long. This exception would only apply if the RV is moving along the highways and roads of those states which allow this exception.

If the RV is parked and you are camping, it is then labeled as a domicile and the open container laws do not apply. You and the rest of the occupants of the RV are free to consume alcohol as long as you do not violate normal intoxication laws.

None of these exceptions will apply if you are driving through or camping in what is called a dry region. They are called dry because of the strict laws ban all forms of alcohol including their transportation through their region’s boundaries.

Some Final Words

The safest piece of information we can provide is to double-check with your local authorities and the appropriate authorities in the states you want to drive through to make sure drinking alcohol is allowed by passengers in your RV.

Not everyone may think like you and feel that passengers drinking some alcohol on a long road trip is okay. As you can see each state has their own rules so do not assume you can travel through one state following the rules of the previous one.

Be safe and wait to drink when you are parked for the night.

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