Can You Drink Alcohol in a Moving RV?

Everyone is aware of the fact that drinking while driving is not ok. Beyond the fact that you are risking your safety and those around you, it is illegal. Just a little bit of alcohol in your system can mean you are breaking the law, and if caught, you will face hefty penalties. It is all in an effort to stop drunk driving and improve car safety

However, there is a gray area for some people, thanks to the popularity of recreational vehicles. When you are not driving, can you drink in an RV, or is it still illegal?

Can you drink alcohol in a motorhome or RV?

A moving RV with bikes on the back driving in New Mexico
A moving RV with bikes on the back | Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Most people set off for weekend adventures, or longer, in their RV when they want to relax. It is a great way to get out into nature while keeping the “at home” comforts. Additionally, one of the biggest comforts for some is sipping on a cold one when camping for the weekend. So, do the same laws apply to you in an RV as they do in passenger cars or trucks?

The answer to this question is far from simple. It is both yes and no.

First and foremost, you should be aware that drinking and driving is a criminal offense, no matter what vehicle you are driving. Considering you can get a DUI while pedaling your lawnmower or bicycle, you are not immune while driving a motorhome. 

It may be a little easier to sip on a glass of wine if you aren’t driving, but you may still face the consequences if the driver is pulled over. Open container laws may be something that you will have to deal with. Your position within the RV may add to or lessen the risk. Some states, such as Arkansas, state that you cannot have an alcoholic beverage within easy reach of the driver of any vehicle. 

Nothing is black and white

When you ask whether you can drink in an RV or not, nothing is simple. According to Cruise America, “40 states and Washington D.C. forbid the possession and consumption of open alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle.” In these states, it does not matter whether you are a passenger or the driver. It is illegal either way. 

Texas is not one of these states. Texas laws do not consider you in violation of any open container laws as long as you are in the living quarters of your camper, RV, or motorhome. In contrast, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will bust you if you have an open container in any motorized vehicle, even RVs. 

As for taking a drink, both Florida and Louisiana say if the RV is in motion, you must be sitting in the back of an RV that is at least 21 feet long. This means you must have a fairly large RV or motorhome and are nowhere near its driver while consuming alcohol.

The truth is, laws vary from state to state regarding RVs and drinking laws. Before you pop the top, you will want to find out what is considered legal in your area and any areas you are traveling through. 

Why do some states forbid passengers from drinking alcohol in an RV?

When you get behind the wheel of a large motorhome or RV, you have to be able to handle it. If you are driving impaired or are distracted by someone who may be drinking and loud in the vehicle with you, you aren’t playing it safe. 

RVs are difficult to control, even if you are sober. They are larger vehicles that can be harder to maneuver than standard cars and trucks. RVs also have far more blind spots when compared to smaller vehicles, meaning it will be harder to see pedestrians and other traffic. Additionally, RVs have a much heavier weight than other vehicles, making them hard to stop quickly to prevent crashes and collisions. So, once you lose control when behind the wheel of an RV, it can be virtually impossible to recover from it. This increases the risk that your RV will flip because you run off the road for even a single second. 

Due to all of these dangers, most states have some rules regarding RVs and alcohol. 

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