Open container bill continues multi-year losing streak

State Rep. Jon Lundberg’s latest attempt to to pass a so-called “Pass The Bottle” bill failed in the House State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

The bill (HB1658) would have revised present law governing open containers of alcoholic beverages or beer in a motor vehicle.

Lundberg, R-Bristol, told subcommittee lawmakers he finds it difficult to explain to constituents why his bill always fails.

“It is legal to drive in a car and have an open container of alcohol as a passenger and even pass a state trooper,” Lundberg said. “This is called the ‘Pass The Bottle’ bill because what happens is the driver is drinking and just passes the bottle to the passenger and there’s no fine.”

…Over the last five years, said Lundberg, Tennessee has lost $100 million in federal funds because state lawmakers have not passed his legislation.

“Should people drink in a car? No,” Lundberg said. “If we’re going to talk about a gas tax (increase) and vote on it, we need every penny and every dollar we’ve got to use on roads and bridges.”

Subcommittee Chairman Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, openly disagreed with Lundberg.

“I guess I just have a difference of opinion about (the bill),” Sanderson told Lundberg. “I do not condone drinking and driving … but I do not want to punish the person sitting in the back seat and drinking a glass of wine.”