The Government Made Me a Litterbug

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Uncle has turned me into a litterbug.beer bottles

I’ve chucked empty beer bottles out the window. I do not like doing this. I feel guilty about doing this. I never used to do this.

So why do I do it now?

Because having an “open container” – or an empty one – in one’s car invites severe (and for me, a car journalist, life-altering) consequences. If one happens to be pulled over by a cop for any random reason (seatbelt “violation,” “speeding,” an out-of-date sticker) and he sees an “open” or “empty” in the car, you are in serious trouble.

Better call Saul.

Even if the “empty” has been empty for weeks.

Even if all you’ve had is a sip – and your BAC level is nowhere near the legal limit defining “drunk” driving.

It doesn’t matter.

checkpointYou still face the possibility of being charged with “drinking while driving” or “driving under the influence” – whatever the verbiage –  and are subject to arrest and prosecution just as you would be if you “blew” a .08 or more on the Breathalyzer (see here for an interesting legal explanation/analysis) machine.

Except you didn’t.

Not being “drunk” isn’t a defense.

All that’s required to establish your “guilt” is the presence in the car of the open/empty container – even if it’s not yours. Even if you didn’t have so much as a sip.

You are presumed guilty of drinking while driving by dint of the presence of the container and it being opened or empty.

This is not unlike characterizing an 18-year-old as a “sex offender” because he had relations with his 17-year-old girlfriend.

Sober drivers are subject to being arrested and convicted and their lives ruined for what amounts to the same offense – in terms of what will happen to them – as drivers whose BAC levels are at or beyond the legal threshold defining them as “drunk.”

Even though theirs aren’t.

Hence the motivation to throw any empties out the window.open contaoner graphic

Littering is a small bust.

Clovers (see here) will sniff that people simply ought not to drink alcohol while driving, ever, regardless of the amount. But the presence of a bottle in the car does not establish that the driver has been drinking. Only that someone did. At some point. Maybe a long time ago.

But even if the driver was drinking, so what?

It’s ok – legal – for me to drive after having a meal with a beer to wash it down. I could walk up to a cop, tell him I am going over to that restaurant across the street to have a steak and plan to have a beer with that steak. And then drive home. The cop – if he is a vengeful dick – could perhaps pull me over to “check” whether I’ve had more than one beer, but provided my BAC level is under the limit, provided he cannot fault my driving, he can do nothing to me, legally speaking.

Why should it matter whether I drink the same beer on the way home?

My BAC will be about the same – well within the lawful range, either way.

And if that BAC isn’t at the “drunk driving” threshold (.08) what’s the problem?open beer pic

Especially if it’s well below the threshold.

Open container or not.

Well, here’s the problem:

Clovers equate the presence of any alcohol whatever in one’s system with “drunk” driving – and are positively itching to imprison people for this “offense.” But they know it’s not – yet – politically palatable to cage people for having even trace amounts of alcohol in their systems, so they don’t say this openly.

Instead, they shriek about “open containers.”

But isn’t it the same thing?

These victims – and that’s the right word – aren’t being caged for drunkenness. They are being caged for drinking.

Open container laws are in force in almost every state – egged on by Uncle, who uses the bully stick of withholding federal highway monies  – to cage people who aren’t “drunk” (or even close to it) according to any of the current standards (BAC levels, roadside gymnastic exercises) by which “impairment” is measured; who have nil or practically nil BAC levels.

Who don’t even have to have been drinking to get convicted of drinking.

They merely had an open container in the car.open beer

Doesn’t matter whether they had just as sip. Five minutes ago – or five weeks ago.

Or not at all.

Just that it is open. Or that it once contained alcohol.

In other words, mere possession of the open alcohol container is the thing. This is what presumes impairment – even if the driver isn’t and the usual tests reveal him to be well within the law.

The “open container” thing is simply a tactical tacit step toward outright Prohibition. That’s the end goal. The eventual criminalization of alcohol consumption in any amount within the nimbus of the operation of a motor vehicle.

This objective has been openly stated by the uber Clovers at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). And they have succeeded with regard to drivers under the age of 21. It is already “zero tolerance” for them.

Eventually, for us, too.

Some may see this as a good thing, the usual mantras about “safety” wafting through the air. But we’re far from safe when the state can convict you of “drinking” while driving even when you haven’t been – and can convict you of being a “drunk” when all you’ve had is a drink.

Or even just a sip.

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51 COMMENTS

  1. The prohibition is not about alcohol, it’s about driving. Driving= freedom and the regressives ain’t so keen on the freedom thing.

    Regressive freedom in four words.
    “My body. My choice*.”
    * Only for pregnant women deciding whether or not to kill a future child.

  2. https://www.return-it.ca/cfm/index.cfm?It=925&Id=148&Se=40&Lo=2&AF=925&AA=Download&AD=151,Dlf1

    The above link is to the Electronic Products Recycling Association fee schedule that was rammed down our throats here in BC. Note that TV purchases get a $9-$35 fee at time of purchase. This is not a ‘deposit’ that you get some or all of back when you recycle the TV.

    The FAQ page – http://recyclemyelectronics.ca/bc/what-can-i-do/recycling-faqs/

    So, if I have already been charged a FEE, there is an assumption that I am not capable of responsibly disposing of my electronics. Why should I not just dump the junk in a ditch? I mean, I have already been penalized as though I would.

    BTW, I recycle, and far more efficiently than the EPRA apparently, as in I often dismantle products and re-purpose components. Something the EPRA specifically says it is prohibited from doing on the FAQ page.

    If you really want to bang your head against a wall, try communicating with the EPRA getting them to provide ANY actual, specific, benefits from this program for the millions of dollars steals from the consumer…….

  3. Michigan has the deposit law so when you buy your fave brew you will pay an extra .10 for it. The same goes for Apple Ale ( my favorite is Red’s Apple Ale) anyway if you toss the empties into a ditch it will provide income for kids who scour the side roads looking for extra money. Of course Uncle will want them to pay their fair share to the IRS as it falls under the “found income” bracket.
    When I was a kid growing up in northern Michigan, walking along the road provided me with enough change to , may times buy a soda, ice cream and whatever else. Especially useful in the summer.
    Now, if I am pulled over with a bag of empties to return for the deposit, does that now make me guilty of the heinous crime of alcoholic intake?
    In Michigan it has become a money maker for various organizations and companies related to the DUI industry and I call it an industry because that is what it is. Anyone caught over .08 will not only loose their driving privileges but ends up paying , and paying and paying……..
    This is a real money maker for cash starved municipalities and of course for AA, and the companies that produce the blood-alcohol/ in car testers that one will be required to have and pay a monthly premium. Not to mention one has to show up at the county sheriff’s office for the mandatory b.a. test every day.
    In short traffic laws and fines have become a racket.
    I was caught in 1973 DUI and with the aid of an attorney got it reduced to impaired, with a reasonable fine and 6 months probation.
    Today the results are far more dire.
    It seems that the prohibitionists have never went away.

    • “It seems that the prohibitionists have never went away.”
      Boy, ain’t that the truth! But to Clover, this is just 1 among many ‘laws there ought to be.’

  4. That’s quite rude and thoughtless of you. On whose property are you discarding your empties? Whose tires are going flat due to your littering?

    I typically enjoy your columns, but “the government made me do it” is such a lame excuse.

    • Hi JPB,

      I don’t generally (or even frequently) do it. But every now and then, a couple times a year, I will enjoy a cold one on the way home. Doing this is certainly a violation of the law. But it’s no harm done. Even so, it’s risking a “drinking while driving” arrest. Hence the strong incentive to throw the empty out the window…

      So, is it my bad – or Uncle’s?

      Put another way: Are we obligated to either accept the possibility of being punished under the terms of an unjust law? Or (as the alternative) obey the unjust law and accept the loss of our liberty?

      • Litterbugs are assholes.

        Please don’t be an asshole.

        If you want to have a brew in the car, that’s fine with me. But be a man about it and stow the empty til you get to a trash can.

        • Hi Tango,

          It’s the government – Clovers – that’s guilty of assholism.

          Guy has a single beer; he’s absolutely not drunk – in a legal or any other sense. One beer.

          Yet he’s subject to arrest just the same if he’s drinking it while in his car. It’s crazy. His choice is to abide by the BS law that says (on the one hand) it’s ok to drink a beer at a bar or restaurant and then drive – but not ok to drink the same beer on the way home…

          If he keeps that one open/empty bottle in the car, he risks huge repercussions. Remember, we live in a police state. It’s legal to stop drivers for absolutely no specific reason, just to “check” them out. If our driver runs across such a “checkpoint,” and he still has that empty in the car, he is doomed.

          Or he can just throw the empty away.

          It’s batshit.

          Like the law that allows cops to arrest a guy sleeping in the back seat of his car because he wanted to be responsible and not drive home drunk.

          Well, might as well!

          So, the government encourages people to drive actually drunk – and to litter.

          Who’s the asshole?

          • eric, we both have the same origins for surnames along with my maternal surname we come from English, Irish, Scottish and northern Germanic.

            Don’t you ever want to know what your ancestors were like? Ours may have been in close contact or similar circumstances.

            We could both have our history right here, like this, hence our anger and outrage at the sorry treatment of our countrymen not to mention kin.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5KqEQvgYyk

            • Morning, Eight!

              Yes, I would. It’s odd that most people (me among them) only know much about maybe two or three generations of their family.

          • Attention Eric and all non-clovers: I encourage you to download an e-book entitled Rats which was written by Claire Wolfe. Eric, you might be interested in embedding the provided link at your site.

        • I’m always a man about it and stow that fucker……right off into the barditch. I prefer to do as much damage to road signs as possible when I stow it. They made the law and they can pay some of the consequences. And for those with a musical ear, there’s nothing like the symphony of a huge boom along with breaking glass at high speed. It’s just one of those beautiful things in life. I feel happy, oh so happy…

          Sittin in the doc’s office today when all of a sudden there’s this loud music with a guy saying My Pappy said son you’re gonna drive me to drinkin if you don’t quit driving that Hot Rod Lincoln…..so I answered my phone…..as bad as I hated to cut it off.

          Goddammit, why doesn’t anyone still want to get out and raise hell? Take that SOB as fast as he’ll dare down a good windy road and when you come up on a hard curve you know like the back of your hand, drive into it real deep and stand on your brakes after you cut your brakes lights for that one. You won’t be disappointed when he gets there.

          One day I go into the county seat and somebody says “Hey man, did you hear about old double nought having a wreck last night”? No man, what happened? He was chasing a car……could have been similar to yours and he ran off the curve(sniggersnigger,huh huh, shades of Bevis and Butthead), ruined the car and fucked him up. Do tell. Cue Fats Domino.

    • “Whose tires are going flat due to your littering?”
      If you throw it off the road, especially in ‘the barditch’ (right 8?) then no one will get a flat unless they are a really bad driver.

    • JPB, I said this before but I’ll repeat it. Before open container I nor my wife would throw out so much as a Q-Tip. But, in for a penny, in for a pound so to speak. In reality, I still don’t litter but I always get rid of an empty anything that had alcohol in it. We have a system. Driver is looking back with mirror(and I am looking through right side mirror if not driving). When there are no cars in sight, empties go out the window, passenger sign unless I’m driving and there’s a sign I can’t resist.

      Coming in from a hard day in the patch in a crewcab everybody would open their window at the same time and there would be a barrage of empties……about every 15 miles or so.

      Don’t tell anyone but last year, my foreman was riding back to the yard with me late at night in a big rig where all alcohol is illegal with his big cooler and my six. He had cans but I had bottles and he’s a damned good shot. I picked out one of those big littering signs and handed him my empty Shiner bottle. It was such a great shot it sounded like a car wreck with all that glass breaking. We were both whopping it up. He hit a couple other signs too but not to the dramatic extent of that bad boy. When we got in to the yard in the wee hours, we were doing all the good. Got in another commercial truck and he dropped me at the house. Next day he said he was still laughing at me for that first sign. I was still laughing too. We laughed about it again Monday.

  5. I specifically joined today because I was so excited to see fellow litterbugs. I chuckled at some of your posts regarding littering and the attitude of “it’s their roads, they can clean it up.” This is the same thought process I have, and I don’t feel guilty one bit! Ha, keep up the great work, Eric.

  6. Ah, the good old days. I grew up in the late ’60s. We wouldn’t even consider going anywhere without beer, and if it was summer we had a cooler filled with beer in the back seat. We drove intoxicated every weekend (during the week too) and thought nothing of it — nor did anyone else.

    I was pulled over numerous times for various things (speeding, loud exhaust) I often had open beer, and the cops never even paid any attention to it even though open-container laws were in effect at that time here in NYS.

    We would set our beer on the floor in the back before the cop came to the door; they would usually shine their flashlight around and they certainly saw the beer cans, but not once did they ever say or do anything about it.

    How times have changed.

  7. “I tossed my empty out the window and popped the top from another can of Schlitz. Littering the public highway? Of course I litter the public highway. Every chance I get. After all, it’s not the beer cans that are ugly; it’s the highway that is ugly.” – Edward Abbey

  8. > Clovers equate the presence of any alcohol whatever in one’s system with “drunk” driving

    There’s one time where having any alcohol at all in your blood will likely present serious difficulties – and that’s if you have a carry permit and have your gun with you. Many states (including Texas) have no minimum permissible alcohol level when you’re carrying.

    • Know the law in your state. In Iowa it is legal to carry concealed or open, with permit, up to .08. This includes inside of bars.
      Great article Eric, as this one hits home for me

  9. So, the woman is driving for Uber these days.

    Ferrying Drunks around after club nights.

    Found an empty Miller high Life under the front passenger seat…

    I was explaining this very thing to her afterwards. And I know it’s true in NJ as well as Virginia (linked article). Also NYC. (Not sure if that’s state or city, The Shitty is a cesspool, “Gotham” is more honest.)

  10. Being sober isn’t a defense, true.

    Not driving isn’t a defense either. Witness the cases where a drunk guy decided to sleep it off in his parked car and still got ticketed for DUI on the grounds that he might decide to drive.

    • Yet we can’t shoot them in pre-emptive self-defense….
      After all, they have the guns, the badges, and an unlimited budget, plus the Thin Blue Line…
      That gun on their hip isn’t there for appearances.

    • In 1974 I had a friend in NM who pulled off into a field and slept in his pickup. Highway patrol accosts him the next morning and charges him with DWI. We couldn’t believe it being from Tx. Next thing you know……

    • Just had a local put his riding mower in a ditch. He was cuffed, stuffed and charged with OVI. Didn’t know you needed a driver’s license to operate a lawnmower. I wonder if he’ll get arrested for driving under suspension next time he mows his yard???

  11. I feel no guilt for littering the government roads. I pay plenty for them, so they can pick up my trash.

    In ID, the future clovers of America get their name on a nifty sign for “adopting a highway”. I am pillaged for that sign, so they can pick up my trash.

    My only policy against littering is on private roads and county roads with farm fields near the road.

      • I hear you, Azar –

        I do my best to avoid littering. But if it’s a choice between risking a BS bust over an “open container” or tossing the empty out the window… well, I’m gonna toss the empty.

        • Yes! I had that experience with doob, but the cop saw the bag going out the window. He turned out to be a decent sort of fellow, though. An unforgettable experience.

          • The “decent” ones are rare animals… I last encountered one about ten years ago. Some of you younger guys may not believe this, but: Back in the ’80s, when a cop pulled you over, it was common to get out of your car and walk over to his car to have a chat. There was no thought of “officer safety” – meaning, no thought (on either part) that you were going to maybe shoot him – or him you. It was just a traffic stop, for chrissakes.

            • I recall lots of those. Some just sat in their cars and waited to see if you’d get out and come to them. It was generally best in that case.

              I got stopped a half mile from the liquor store in Nazareth, Tx. once with my wife and a friend. DPS comes to my window and asks me if it’s my car. No stupid, it’s yours and I stole it while you weren’t looking. Well, I didn’t say that but thought it and he knew I was thinking something along those lines.

              Yall buy some liquor? No shit Sherlock, you sat and watched us go into the store and leave carrying it but I just said “yes”.

              Then he asks, “Got a key to the trunk?” I’m thinking, this guy is retarded, WTF wouldn’t I have a trunk key so I said “yes”. tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock. Finally he says in a very smart-ass way “Well, open it up”. I’m thinking, does this guy ever say what he means. So I get out, open the trunk and there our booty is in a trunk you could eat off of with a pristine spare that was even shined(I’ve always been sorta anal about my cars and they fairly much sparkled even under the hood no matter what the circumstance. There were a couple toolboxes neatly rubber snubbered to the trunk brace on both sides with our neatly snubbered bottle of Maker’s Mark, a case of beer and a bottle of wine, all untouched since we’d bought it.

              So since we’d been doing a blazing 60 miles per hour in a 70 he tells me to “hold it down”. Oh, I intend to, I “never’ puke up good booze. Gives me back my license and we proceed away as quietly as possible given the engine in that car. We got half a mile away and I nailed it and was soon doing well into triple digits. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what say we burn that doob and do a little drinking? I stopped half a mile past a major highway where we retrieved our booze and began to get a major buzz going. Nothing between us and home but cotton fields and road signs. A fine Saturday afternoon thank you ma’am.

              The most common scenario for me was “What you got under the hood?” I often took a turn if I could to avoid pulling up beside a cop and have them stare at me with the old Malibu doing it’s little dance of Duntov and the clacketyclack of solid lifters.

                • PtB, you would have enjoyed that dance and the ensuing chaos unleashed when the pedal hit the metal. I once had a faint-hearted woman scream Stop…let me out! that would more accurately(at least to me) mean Stop the world and let me off). Some seemed to not be able to find their voice while others howled at the moon.

              • I had a streetable V-8 Vega and later a Chevy C-10 that I built 20+ years ago. Both had Weiand dual plane intakes and modified Quadrajets, but the Vega had the most radical hydraulic <5500 rpm cam and therefore the most lope. I wonder if those engines would still have that lope if they would have had electronic fuel injection instead?

  12. What is government. It’s like this tiny unobtrusive little skimmer you see in this vid.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll4f0Wim4pM

    It starts out small and harmless. The longer you leave it in place though, the worst it gets.

    Governments don’t just make you litterbugs. They also make you drooling morons that cheer on the murders of people who are subjugate under a different atm skimmer.

    It makes otherwise good people actually think Chinese, Russians, North Koreans, Iranians, somehow deserve the brutality and death they get, because they are subjugated by a different atm skimmer.

    The truth is, people are all born the same. Babies don’t come into this world ready pre indoctrinated and picking up a fisher price AR-15 rattle ready to kill the enemy.

    We have to teach them all the moronic garbage. The evil useless crap we’ve all been indoctrinated with.

    Government has made us rapists and enslavers of our own children. We are willingly cuckold cuckoos who vote for the official cuckoo birds who will sit in the nests we built. Fuck the wives we’ve chosen to mate with. And fill the birds with their shit, all the while we just flap around helpless. Some getting the early worm. Some just saying fuck it and going from birdhouse to birdhouse getting the free shit that’s put their for the taking.

    All of us cuckolds too afraid to fly over and out of the cuckoos nest.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBHN7aJGogY

    • They made us worse than litterbugs. The wisest thing for them to make us believe we are is Most Wanted Criminals at all times. It is more than that though, we are members of a street gang caught outside our own turf (for the moment our homes). A similar plotline to the cult classic movie The Warriors https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=MV4cgs-bPic#t=19.

      With us it isn’t the THE GRAMERCY RIFFS. THE ROGUES. …TURNBULL AC’S. …
      THE ORPHANS. …THE BASEBALL FURIES. …THE LIZZIES. … or THE PUNKS. It is Local police, State Police, Highway Patrol, DHS, ATFE, EPA… Little old us are just trying to get back home but run the gauntlet.

    • Don’t think they won’t hunt us down when they realize we’re not afraid. We(in this country) have one failing(but it’s going away quickly)in that they’re not coming after us. It takes a while since they’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer but eventually a bunch of them will be able to accurately add 2 and 2 and come after the three of you. it’s more common now for you to see them coming. Toodle ooh, mf’s, take this…..or this…….whump whump whump whump……And please, take all those old fuckers my age who make movies of being govt. sponsored badasses. Gag me with a spoon ARNOLD.

  13. Meanwhile, your empties get caught up in my mowers, haybinder, and animal feed. The broken bottles flatten my tires. Thanks.

    • I forget, so I must ask: Are you a Clover?
      You are imputing aggression to this act, in essence. While I understand – it’s the same sort of malice I see inherent in Taxes, gun restrictions, licensing schemes…

      So I need to ask to make sure I understand your meaning and tone, as you should be consistent in your logic. Since I’ve been offline for a while, I can only comment: This sounds a lot like, “There oughta be a law…!”

      And there IS, but in order to avoid one insane law, people break another inane (spelling intentional) law.

  14. Shoot, a couple of evenings ago LEO was in his glory harassing folks for endangering the public by driving alone in the HOV lane. And in the People’s Republic of Maryland, it’s not just a hefty fine ($250, IIRC) but points on your license, so the insurance mafia can make you continue to pay. Course here in the DC area, there’s plenty folks for whom $250 is chump change, so they tacked on the points to give the law some teeth.

    • I would pay no attention to any traffic law, if it were just the “usage tax” of the fine. It is the insurance bite for three years or more that gets my attention. Back in college, I wanted to do a “I now pronounce you Chuck & Larry” with my best buds girlfriend in order to get married insurance rates….

  15. And what if you have a passenger, and he is the one w/the open container? Doesn’t matter, driver gets busted.
    Also, IIRC in New York State you are not even allowed to have a 6-pack locked in the trunk that has a can missing from it. Of course at this point they still have to manufacture some supposedly legitimate reason to look in you trunk, can’t just do it ‘on a whim.’ But how much longer is that going to last, at the present rate of ‘progress.’

  16. I had this conversation discussing simply taking my aluminum cans to the recycling center – some of which are beer cans.

    • Nice. I wonder if that could be a defense? Just throw your empties in a plastic sack, and if the cop pulls you over, just tell him you were on your way to recycle cans.

      • Brian L, don’t give them too much credit. If you have a black plastic trash bag in your vehicle they won’t even notice. Keep it in your back floorboard, closed up. When they pull it out they will be so greedy as to not even suspect it’s something other than cans and bottles. Their mistake when you have the tiewrap hooked to the handle on the grenade. Make sure you duck below seat level when they open it.

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