Monday, June 27, 2011

Growlers in a car

Growlers have been around for a very long time in one form or another. In recent years they have gained a new popularity with the coming of brewpubs and bars that offer draft beer to go. A little tweet caught my eye on having growlers in one’s car between pub and home. As the Federal Government has resorted to a form of extortion in mandating the states to impose added restrictions on how you operate your car I felt comments on this were in order. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (known as TEA-21) was enacted June 9, 1998 by congress. Although it is no longer in effect its damage continues. One aspect of this was the mandating to prohibit open containers of alcohol in vehicles. In a nut brown shell, it basically states:

Prohibit both possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and consumption of any alcoholic beverage.

Cover the passenger area of any motor vehicle, including unlocked glove compartments and any other areas of the vehicle that are readily accessible to the driver or passengers while in their seats.

Apply to all open alcoholic beverage containers and all alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits that contain one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume.

Apply to all vehicle occupants except for passengers of vehicles designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of people for compensation (such as buses, taxi cabs, and limousines) or the living quarters of motor homes.

Apply to all vehicles on a public highway or the right-of-way (i.e. on the shoulder) of a public highway.

Require primary enforcement of the law, rather than requiring probable cause that another violation had been committed before allowing enforcement of the open container law.

So the question at hand is a growler an open container? I don’t know if this was specifically determined in court but it could be a matter of interpretation between you and the police officer writing you a ticket. In the true sense, an open container has no cap, lid, seal or anything else that would prevent the contents from coming out. No, fixing your mouth to a growler is not sealing it. Also in the true sense, a sealed container is one that was sealed after filling by the manufacturer and as such the seal needs to be broken to open. Twist-off caps usually indicate if it was twisted off. In the case of growlers it cannot be determined if the cap was ever removed other that seeing that the bottle is still full. Still, there is a legal point that can be made that a person has access to the contents more readily in a growler than if it were in a can or regular beer bottle. The fact that a growler can be opened in a car may be legal enough to receive a citation. Actually, the last sentence in this writing does restrict alcohol from a passenger compartment.

Four Sons brewpub in Western Pennsylvania used to sell growlers when they were in business. They applied the letter of the law when selling growlers. They would apply heat-shrink tape to the cap and neck to show that the container was “factory sealed” at the point of sale. This established a president of sorts, as local cops would have known that this was done. Had you been stopped and not had a “sealed” bottle they could argue that you had an open container. Now, I’m no lawyer and maybe I drink too much but I would not take the chance in having one in the passenger compartment of my car. If you are sober and have a short ride home is one thing. Having a few big brews and then taking some more home may be risk.

The actual prohibition to having any alcohol in the passenger compartment of a car comes from the Commonwealth.

Page 16 of 29 states:

§ 3809. Restriction on alcoholic beverages.

(a) General rule.--Except as set forth in subsection (b), an

individual who is an operator or an occupant in a motor vehicle

may not be in possession of an open alcoholic beverage container

or consume a controlled substance as defined in the act of April

14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance,

Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, or an alcoholic beverage in a

motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is located on a highway in

this Commonwealth.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alcohol Free Navy

The Navy should not drink any form of alcohol. They have a stealth boat that inspired the ship used in the 1997 James Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies." The Navy is trying to GIVE AWAY the Sea Shadow to anyone that will put it on PUBLIC DISPLAY. But nobody has shown any viable interest so the Navy will cut it up for scrap. Let’s have a recap here boys and girls. The Navy (ours) has a secret ship that it wants to give away so the public can see it. The ship will no longer be secret (like, starting now?) and viewable to every man, woman and child in the world.

So, where is this boat now? Norfolk? Basement of the Pentagon? Dr. No’s garage? No, The Sea Shadow now berths inside the rusting hulk of the Hughes Mining Barge, a fully submersible dry dock at the Navy's Mole Pier in San Diego, California. (Was that a secret?) The ship, as well as the dry dock, are kept out of sight of spy satellites and from public view. Oh yes, the dock is for the taking, too. So, just one more re-cap. The Navy is trying to give away two rusting ships in the hope that they can be put on public display but for the time being they are top secret.

Is it fathomable (yes, pun time) to think that it is time that AA has a group session with the top brass?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Parking Rates a Complaint

In no surprise to anyone, the Republican controlled Parking Authority and Republican controlled City Council jacked up parking rates in Pittsburgh. Remember, the Democrats are for the working man. In an added bonus for rate-payers, certain people who have the power to put this in affect get a discount on their parking downtown. They should as they do so much to us.

In a show of force just to let us know who is in control, the parking people were out in force after the rate hike writing tickets at a feverish pace. Allegheny County Emergency Services reported that many of the ticket writers had to be rushed to area hospitals for writer’s cramp. No doubt we will get the bill for that.

So, should we bitch about this? No! Politicians have a deep desire to take money from people who actually earn it. The purpose for meters is not to remove money from your pocket but to control traffic and PROMOTE shopping. Rates need to be set to allow for doing business but not to give shoppers reason to stay home. It is also to prevent all day parking for people NOT shopping. Do politicians need to listen to our bitch? No! As long as we bend over and pay it they are happy. As long as the parking money is coming in as well as the tax paid by the merchants, the lords of the manor are content. Is there a solution? You betcha! But I don’t think anybody wants to hear it due to its painful side affects.

And what affect will the new tax and enforcement have? I say none. We got a smoking ban and people said bars would suffer yet I can’t get a seat. The drink tax was going to make people stay home but I can’t find a place to park. Much like the drink tax is yesterday’s news we will move on to another bitch soon enough. Hey, football is right around the corner.

I do have one complaint for the Parking Authority; FIX THE METERS! If I am going to pay can I at least see through the frosted window?