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State Lawmakers To Vote On Proposed Changes To Open Container Law

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RALEIGH — One issuelawmakerswill debate in the short session is whether or not to allow open containers of alcohol in vehicles.

Current law says a passenger can take along a beer if the driver has not been drinking. However, a federal mandate says the state must ban all open containers in vehicles by October 1 or the state could risk losing millions in highway funding.

"If we were to lose that, it would be a substantial loss to the state," says state Rep. Andrew Dedmon.

Law enforcement officers say the change would make their jobs easier.

"It would make it easier for the public to understand and easier for us to do our job and make sure to keep drunk drivers off the road," says Trooper Andrew Koehler.

Stores that sell cold beer may get hit hardest, but not everyone is concerned.

"I don't think it will affect our business as long as people know what to do with alcohol," says store manager Bassam Helo. "It's like buying it, taking it home or drink it somewhere safe. I don't think it will affect our business."

Some argue the law is tough enough and does not need to be changed. There is also concern that the federal government is eroding the power of the states.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Chad Whisnant, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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