Proposal to expand open container law defeated once again

From education funding to tax reform, there are certain issues that always seem to end up being considered in one form or another during the course of the legislative session in Nashville. Indeed, one state lawmaker has introduced a bill calling for the expansion of one of the state’s DUI laws for the last several years.

Rep. John Lundberg (R-Bristol) has repeatedly introduced legislation calling for the state’s open container law — which currently applies only to drivers — to be expanded to include passengers and each time the measure has failed.

This year’s version of the “Pass the Bottle” legislation, or House Bill 140, proved no different, as it was defeated by the House State Government Committee earlier this week.

The early rejection of the bill comes as something of a surprise, however, given that. Lundberg had made certain modifications in order to make it more palatable to fellow lawmakers, including exempting those passengers traveling in chauffeur-driven vehicles, vehicles for hire and the living quarters of house trailers/house coaches.

In testimony before the committee, Lundberg, whose bill was supported by both the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, argued that the state’s refusal to broaden the open container law was costing it millions of dollars in federal highway funds.

This argument proved unavailing, however, as HB 140 was defeated by a voice vote, leaving Lundberg uncertain if he would continue his efforts to get the Pass the Bottle legislation passed next year and Tennessee passengers able to continue imbibing.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence as doing so can help protect your rights and your reputation.

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