The Iowa Senate has endorsed a bill which would make it easier for restaurant patrons to leave with a partially-consumed bottle of wine and drive home without fear of being charged with driving around with an "open container" of alcohol.
Senator Rich Olive, a Democrat from Story City, said the bill would let a waiter or waitress put a bottle that’s been opened but still has a glass or two of wine in a sealed "doggy bag."
"They cost somewhere between 30 and 40 cents per bag," Olive said. "They then reseal it and if you are stopped, the police officer would be able to tell whether your open container is sealed in this doggy bag."
Under current law restaurants can re-cork a bottle of wine for a customer, but Olive said few do because police can’t tell who put the cork in the bottle. "You can never tell if they’ve popped open the cork when they left and started to drink back out of the bottle of wine," Olive said.
Olive argued this proposal may reduce drunken driving as restaurant-goers may be less inclined to drain a bottle of wine if they can safely tote home a half- or quarter-bottle. "If we can keep people from drinking too much alcohol and then driving — I think that’s a very fine thing for us to do," Olive said.
Olive got the idea from his statehouse secretary. "I don’t want anybody to think he spends all of his time drinking wine, but it was a concern of his," Olive joked. Several secretaries, senators and other legislative staffers laughed.
In addition, Senator Olive joked about the drinking habits of his peers during Thursday evening’s debate of the bill. "No one here in the senate has ever run into the problem of leaving a partial bottle of wine at the table," Olive said with a smile.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.