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State panel advances Lundberg's 'Pass the Bottle' bill

February 26th, 2014 7:44 pm by Staff Report

State panel advances Lundberg's 'Pass the Bottle' bill

After years of failure, a Tennessee State Government Subcommittee advanced on Wednesday state Rep. Jon Lundberg’s so-called “Pass The Bottle” legislation that would ban passengers from having open alcohol containers in vehicles.

Lundberg, R-Bristol, had argued over the years that the legislation would save lives and bring more federal highway funds to Tennessee, but it repeatedly failed to get out of any committee.

“It’s really quite sad. ... It’s legal to drink alcohol in a car in Tennessee,” Lundberg told lawmakers on the subcommittee. “Often it’s the driver doing it and when the car is pulled over, he simply passes the bottle to the passenger.”

Tri-Cities municipal governments had consistently advocated Lundberg’s bill by noting Tennessee has “foregone more than $90 million in federal transportation funding” since 2004 by not being in compliance with federal open container requirements.

The bill’s fiscal impact statement estimated there would be about 650 open container violations each year with a current average individual fine of $40. A violation would be a misdemeanor offense.

The statement also noted an additional annual average of $1.5 million in federal funds would come to the Tennessee Department of Transportation if the bill became law.

“These are monies that could be used to build roads and build bridges,” Lundberg noted.

Typically, federal funds coming from the Federal Highway Administration had gone to alcohol countermeasures and other non-construction aspects of roadway safety.

Passengers in limousines or the living quarters of recreational vehicles would be exempted from the bill.

For more go to Lundberg’s bill is HB 84. 

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