- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Billings lawmaker has proposed legislation to change Montana’s open container law to allow passengers in a vehicle to drink alcohol.

Republican Rep. Daniel Zolnikov told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday he did not believe the threat of losing federal highway money should prevent the state from passing what he called common-sense legislation.

Montana passed its open container law in 2005, which prohibits the possession of an open alcoholic beverage container by anyone in a motor vehicle on a highway.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports Zolnikov listed several times when a passenger might want to drink while the driver does not, including driving to a fishing hole or returning from a hunting trip.

State officials say the change could mean $9.6 million in federal highway funding would have to be diverted from construction to safety programs.

The committee did not act on the bill.

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