The rules of the road are changing when it comes to “open containers” ofalcohol. The bill on its way to the Governor’s desk bans “open containers” anywherein the passenger compartment of a car — and relegates open cans and bottlesbehind the rear seat of a van. The only exceptions are that passengers candrink in limosines and passengers can drink in vans and buses if the driveris paid. Representative James Drees of Manning is worried the bill will hurtroad-side beautification efforts. Someone who picks up an empty beer can atthe side of the road to gain a nickle could end up being charged.Representative Roger Thomas of Elkader opposed the bill. He says the billtakes away people’s rights to do what they want to do.Representative Teresa Garman of Ames responded to the critics saying thereshouldn’t be any drinking going on in cars.Under present law, it’s only illegal for the driver to have an opencontainer of hooch within their reach in a vehicle. If the state fails totoughen the open container law, over 13-and-a-half million dollars worth offederal road-building money will be withheld in the next three years. Critics of the bill say it’s over-kill and penalizes innocent Iowans whoenjoy “road-tripping.” The bill cleared the House on a 78 to 11 vote andgoes to the Governor for his signature.
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