Open Container, or is it?

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leirbag

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Just for the sake of conversation, I thought I would put this out in the forum and see what kind of discussions I get.

I use party pigs with my home brews. I have one party pig in my refrigerator right now and I was planning on going over to my father in laws house to watch some sports. I considered taking my party pig, of which I have been drinking from in the last two days, so in a sense the container is "open." This got me thinking, if I were to drive over to my father in laws house with my party pig, would I be driving with an open container??

Anyone have any stories to share or similar scenarios? What was the result? Any law enforcement or attorneys out there that could comment? I'm just curious what they might say about that scenario.

Gabriel
 

jkreuze

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Depends on which state's law you're talking about but yes, the reasonably prudent person puts his party pig in the trunk.
 

BendBrewer

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Here in OR it's fine as long as it's as far from the driver as possible (out of reach), but I wouldn't worry about it anyway.
Not if it is homebrew. Can't take homebrew out of the house currently in OR.

I still wouldn't worry about it.
 

devilishprune

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Yeah, I would put it in the backseat or the trunk to be safe. I wondered the same thing when I came home with a growler.
 

Veinman

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I have often wondered about this and did some quick research. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website:

"The open container law must apply to the passenger area of any motor vehicle. "Passenger area" is defined as the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while the motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in their seating positions, including the glove compartment. Vehicles without trunks may have an open alcoholic beverage container behind the last upright seat or in an area not normally occupied by the driver or passengers. A law that permits the possession of open alcoholic beverage containers in an unlocked glove compartment, however, will not conform to the requirements."

Of course this doesn't define "open container" but I suspect it would be any container you can get liquor out of, i.e. flip-top bottles and plastic re-sealable bottles could be open containers unless you have some way to prove they haven't been opened. One of the guys I brews with covers all his fliptop bottles with a plastic cap that he heat shrinks on to show it hasn't been opened.

So it appears you can put your open containers in the trunk or the bed of your pickup, but not the glove box! Now from what I understand these are general regulations which state laws must comply with, I'm not sure if the states are allowed to add additional regulations on top of these guidelines.
 

Airborneguy

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Of course, take this and decide what you are willing to risk, but I'll give you my "real-world" law enforcement view of the law (here in NY).

When I pull over a vehicle with an open container, I make the decision how to proceed based on if I believe that the container is being used to drink at the immediate time of our encounter, ie, while the person is driving. I make that based on what the person tells me and if I believe it, and how the container is being transported.

For example, if someone had a few open bottles of liquor in a box in the car and tells me that they are transporting to/from a party, I would believe it based on the bottles being in a box, back-seat, etc. If they had a bottle of vodka on the backseat or floor, I probably wouldn't believe them.

If I ever saw anyone transporting a large container of alcohol, ie, a keg, a partypig, growlers, etc, I would lean towards the decision that this was a transporting situation, not a consuming one. Right off the bat, the odds of someone carrying a keg to actively drink and drive are pretty slim...

Remember though, that is just my way of policing, and you may encounter a cop who likes to take the thinnest interpretation and apply it to make arrests/issue summonses. Technically, one can call a container that is not sealed with an unbroken seal "open", so take my info for what's it's worth. I would venture that most cops would use common sense in this situation.
 

devilishprune

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Great info Veinman and airborneguy.

In the future, I would say that just to be safe you should put your keg/partypig/growler in the trunk or behind the "last upright seat" just to be safe. I know that's what I'll be doing.

Come to think of it, unless you've been consuming beer from that container, your odds of getting pulled over don't seem that likely (unless you're speeding or doing something else illegal).
 

SCARYLARRY

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In KY when you get a growler filled they put a sticker and or tape over the lid and touching the growler.
 

mrmekon

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I (luckily) did not get pulled over, but have driven with two active 6-gallon fermenters in my back seat. The whole way I was wondering how a cop would react. It's definitely not reasonable to think that I would be drinking from an air-locked, actively-fermenting bucket, but it did technically contain some amount of alcohol, and was in the passenger compartment.

The officer would probably have no idea what they are, and I'd probably be charged with terrorism.
 

Banjoman76

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Most BrewPubs and Breweries in Michigan "heat seal" the cap with a strip of plastic :eek:
 

Sea

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Not if it is homebrew. Can't take homebrew out of the house currently in OR.

I still wouldn't worry about it.
I forgot about the recent re-interpretation of the old law. Course, they'd have to PROVE it was homebrew, because you can safely transport growlers and the like from brewpubs.
 

roadymi

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In MI you can carry an opened bottle of wine if it has been recorked. I would think in most jurisdictions that if you are carrying any type of keg system and the dispesning device is diasabled u should be fine.
 

samc

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The officer would probably have no idea what they are, and I'd probably be charged with terrorism.

Why not? Are they not capable of being brewers? I's suspect that most veteran police have seen a lot of things you would never dream of.
 

Bottenbrew

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Yeah just put it in the trunk to be safe, and if they pull you over, don't consent to letting them open it.
 

mrmekon

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Why not? Are they not capable of being brewers? I's suspect that most veteran police have seen a lot of things you would never dream of.
I was thinking more in terms of statistical probability, not capability. I'm sure there are plenty of police officers on this board even, but what is the chance that, in a city of 5.5 million, the officer who pulls me over is familiar with, and supportive of, homebrewing?

How's that for some commas?
 
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