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Discussion Starter #1
Let’s say you take your van to Austin, park legally overnight, have a good night on 6th/Rainey, and sleep it off in your van. No keys in ignition. What are the legalities of doing this? Any cops on this forum have some input?

Or just in general, being parked somewhere legally and drinking some beers in the van (no keys in ignition).

I know this may vary state to state, but anyone have any experience with the law regarding alcohol while not driving and with no intent to drive?
 

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There could be some risk. Drunk driving laws often have language like "having physical control of the vehicle." People get arrested sleeping it off behind the bar. I’d guess that your risk would be lower, though.

An extra bit of protection might be the curtain separating the cab from the rear. Then you could argue that you were in a separate "room" from the driver seat.
 

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Depends on the state. Texas is less friendly from what I remember. In Oregon, you can have open containers in the "house" part of a camper, provided there is a divider between the house and cab. A curtain is a divider. It does not need to be a rigid barrier. I've has to stay parked my van overnight after too many, but I stashed the keys in the back, and slept in the bed. Remote start is great because you can still have heat without keys in the ignition, and it shuts off after a while (15 min on mine).

I guess the main defense is.... keep ignognito. How would they even know you're in the van? I think as long as you aren't reclined in the driver's seat, you should be ok.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Will definitely add a curtain now. Wasn’t planning on it before. Thanks for the advice!
 

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IMO
The letter of the law only matters in court, where the judge will always give the LEO's "statements" more credibility than the accused. However you parse it, you are at the mercy of the police. So regardless of whether or not you are within the law, your best approach is to handle any encounter with the police is with tact and honesty and hope the officer is reasonable.
 

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If you aren't in a campground, consider how things could play out if for some reason your parking spot wasn't as good as you first thought and you need to move your vehicle sooner than anticipated.

I prefer to stay alert and sober in my van.
 

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I believe thare are 2 things cops will look for.
1. If open container laws are being followed, primarily for the front driver and passenger seat.
2. If the occupant of the vehicle is considered "in control" of the vehicle. (The typical scenario is where a person who has been drinking falls asleep in the driver seat with the key to the vehicle readily available or in the ignition.) If one is under the influence and sleeping in the driver seat, but the police that wake you can't find the keys to the vehicle, they can't consider you in control of the vehicle, and therefore can't charge you for being under the influence.

One article in this subject;
 

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"The statutory chart below summarizes the state laws in three categories: open container or consumption of alcohol within motor vehicles, open containers or consumption of alcohol in public, patrons removing partially consumed containers or bottles from restaurants and curbside and carryout sales by the drink." 🍻

Open Container and Consumption Statutes
 

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A friend in college got pulled over for speeding, and had a big bag of cans in the back seat of his car that he was taking to recycle at the store (even in the 80's it was a 5-10 cents per, so a big bag was $10+, a decent amount of money to a college student in the days of $3 minimum wage). The cop threatened to give him an open-container citation as well, but I think it was just a "scared straight" moment. Ever since then I always transported my empty cans/bottles in my trunk or back of my pickup.
 

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I've read elsewhere it makes a difference if the van has been retitled as a recreational vehicle. The inference was it is legal to drink in a RV, but not in a van (converted or not).
 

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I've read elsewhere it makes a difference if the van has been retitled as a recreational vehicle. The inference was it is legal to drink in a RV, but not in a van (converted or not).
I have also heard that in a lot of areas you can only consume alcohol in your vehicle if you have retitled it as an RV. In many areas there are requirements for this beyond just using it as an RV. For example some places may require that you have electric, refrigeration, heating, and septic before you can be registered as an RV.
 

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What if you were parked someplace and were told you had to move? I'd only do it if I were at a campground. Then I might still want to have the keys out of the ignition.
 

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I would think, with NO official standing on this topic, it is one thing to drink in back of your camper out in the middle of nowhere...boondocking as we say, or in many campgrounds. It’s a totally different thing to drink while stealth camping on a city street. Grey areas? I remember the night I tried to camp in the trailhead parking lot of a Nat. Forest bike trail in Colorado. This was a long way from anybody. I was totally self-contained, no chairs, or table, or barbecue...just a boy & his bike, in the back of a van. At 1:30 AM, I was rousted out of there by the local constabulary. Turns out the parking lot was State of Colorado Bureau of Wildlife land. One tiny obscure sign 10 miles away said no camping, no signage at the parking lot itself. It was ok to park there overnight, and camp on the other side of the fence, in the US land, according to the officer, but it was not ok to sleep in the van itself on Colorado land. The bad news was I had to relocate (since I didn’t have a tent or similar) and literally, the closest legal place to park was 20 miles away. The good news was, I hadn’t been drinking. More bad news, after driving 40 miles round trip to get back to that very same trailhead after the sun came up, it turns out some organized club had commandeered the trail for a “downhill only” race, and that was the “finish line” for their race. They wouldn’t let me ride uphill. I was furious. It was enough to drive a man to drink.

So, moral of the story, you best be doing absolutely nothing else even remotely wrong (pun intended), if you are going to drink.


2015 Tall, Medium Length, Cargo, 3.5EB, pretty generic-looking, DIY camper
 

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Discussion Starter #16
What if you were parked someplace and were told you had to move? I'd only do it if I were at a campground. Then I might still want to have the keys out of the ignition.

I mean they can’t force you to drive drunk. In Austin there are signs if you can overnight park, or some lots you can pay $12-20 to overnight park. If an officer came banging on the door saying “you need to move,” why couldn’t you just be honest and let them know if it has to move you’ll have to have this high roof giant extended transit towed since I can’t drive. Then take the loss that night, get a hotel (hopefully not jail lol).

The campgrounds walking/cheap uber distance from downtown are like $60 for a night. That to me seems like a lot to just sleep in my van.
 

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The campgrounds walking/cheap uber distance from downtown are like $60 for a night. That to me seems like a lot to just sleep in my van.
You didn't ask about sleeping in your van. You asked about drinking in it - presumably beyond the legal limit to drive. Also, with the way it was written it seemed likely you weren't talking about a campground or a buddy's driveway.

I agree that many campgrounds are insanely priced. Even half that amount is stupid. But you won't get my vote for having it both ways, and probably not the cop's if you were to be caught.

Sounds like you already have the answers to your question though, so not sure why you've asked it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
You didn't ask about sleeping in your van. You asked about drinking in it - presumably beyond the legal limit to drive. Also, with the way it was written it seemed likely you weren't talking about a campground or a buddy's driveway.

I agree that many campgrounds are insanely priced. Even half that amount is stupid. But you won't get my vote for having it both ways, and probably not the cop's if you were to be caught.

Sounds like you already have the answers to your question though, so not sure why you've asked it.
What do you mean? My first post literally said having a night out in Austin then sleeping in your van, then follow up question about drinking in it.

I don’t have the answers... idk why you are being kind of rude asking why I even asked lol. I’m just wondering if anyone had experience with an officer in this situation, and if it went well. Or if there are any police officers on this forum with some insight or tips to be in the clear.
 

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Why do you feel the need to drink at all?
This was something I did in my 20s because everybody else I knew did it, By my mid 20s I had grown out of it.
I still drink but it is one or two beers or a glass of wine, Mostly because I like the taste of it once in awhile.
 
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