The so-called “Pass the Bottle” bill to ban all open containers of alcohol in vehicles in Tennessee is once again making its way through the state General Assembly. As the NET News Service reported in Thursday’s paper, the legislation has cleared an important subcommittee in the House.
It’s journey to passage, however, is far from over. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. John Lundberg, R-Bristol, has made it this far before only to be detoured for another year.
It’s time for state lawmakers to stop passing the buck and approve the “Pass the Bottle” bill. While no driver may drink alcohol or possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee, passengers are allowed under state law to consume booze in that very same vehicle.
This loophole allows a driver to simply pass the bottle to a passenger if he or she is stopped by a law enforcement officer.
This loophole also costs Tennessee more than $1.5 million annually in federal highway funds.
The leading argument against Lundberg’s bill is that it would infringe on the rights of University of Tennessee fans who wish to enjoy a cocktail (while being driven by a sober friend) to a football game in Knoxville.
As we’ve said many times before in this space, that’s hardly a valid reason for state legislators to ignore the dangers of drinking and driving.