Ohio Should Take Another Look at This Law

Posted on October 1, 1994 by Sara Eastwood

Last month we ran a news article about four women from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio that had rented a limousine and were heading for a Michael Bolton concert.  A police officer pulled them over and fined the ladies $155 each for drinking champagne in the back seat which is forbidden by law in Ohio.

Recently, the hired limousine company sent me 16 different articles from local newspapers responding to the incident.  The incident is now being referred to as “Limogate” in Ohio.  It seems this occurrence has raised much controversy on the whether it should be legal for passengers in limousines to drink alcohol.  The women claim they acted responsibly.  They rented the car for the sole purpose of having a “designated driver” for the evening.  Arguments have ensued over whether of not limousines should be exempt from this law.

Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), who do not advocate drinking and driving, applauded the four women’s intent about wanting a designated driver.  With the holidays quickly approaching I thought this issue would be of interest.  After all, not many party goers on New Year’s Eve will rent limousines without the intent of toasting a glass of bubbly at midnight.

What do we do about the many limousine services that provide a complimentary bottle of champagne?  And of course, where this law applies, there would be no more Crown Royal in the decanters for your corporate clientele.

Some parents that I spoke to felt the law does keep people in check.  They felt that without some boundaries, things could get out of hand with carloads of passengers drinking and “whooping it up.”

Regarding proms, parents expressed that would be naïve to think kids are not going to drink.  They would rather have piece of mind knowing their teenagers were in the hands of a chauffeur-driven vehicle.

Outrage and disgust were the overall tones expressed by citizens who wrote to Ohio papers regarding the big “bust” in Cuyahoga Falls.  The residents of Ohio felt the whole incident was a waste of the taxpayers money.  Excerpts from the various articles I read also had citizens complaining about a “violation of rights” and “law enforcement that’s gone overboard.”

I think the law is the law and by and large we should respect it.  However, we should look at this particular incident as it relates to our industry.  In many cases, limousines circumvent individuals who might otherwise get behind the wheel of their own vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.  So the question is this, should the open container law be waived for limousine passengers?



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