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Feds checking the fine print

Friday, May 30, 2008

* Meddling bureaucrats strike again

A 2006 Illinois law that allows diners to carry home an unfinished bottle of wine is going to cost Illinois 3% of its federal highway construction money, or about $23.4 million this year.

A letter to the state from the U.S. Department of Transportation dated Wednesday said the money has to be transferred to measures against driving while impaired by alcohol, enforcement of drunk-driving laws and highway safety programs.

The state law amended the Illinois open-container law, allowing diners to carry resealed bottles home in a special tamper-proof, one-use-only bag. The amendment passed by wide margins in the Illinois House and Senate and took effect last year.

However, the letter says, the law failed to specify that the bottle has to be carried in the trunk or in the rear of the vehicle, in order to meet federal requirements. Illinois has 30 days to issue a rebuttal and show why its law does comply with federal requirements.

You’d think that other state statutes would clearly cover this situation. Open bottles, even in a bag (of any kind), already have to be placed far away from the driver. To declare this again seems kinda redundant, but that’s a big chunk of money we stand to lose, so I suppose the feds will force Illinois to amend the law.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Johnny USA - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 7:35 am:

    Sweet….$23 million more for roadside ’saftey checkpoints’!

    Get the drug dogs ready, Lisa Madigan! (can’t wait to vote for you for governor! ROCK ON!)

  2. - Wary - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:32 am:

    More federal tyranny!

  3. - Captain America - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:40 am:

    The Federal interpretation of the law to a sensible Illinois statute reflects an absence of common sense. It’s obvious that the Illinois statute comples witht the intent, if not the letter, of the federal requirements that open alcohol containers should not be allowed in vehicles. But I’m not sure why the law couldn’t have been written to reflect strict comliance with the federal statute and regulations in the first place.

  4. - Skeeter - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:57 am:

    This is just poor government in Illinois. It is the sort of thing that caused the GOP to lose 30 House seats in 2006.

    Like the Fed Gov’t, it looks like our state gov’t just isn’t very good at “government.” This should have been caught early but a competent Gen. Assembly.

    Although I have a ton of respect for the Dems in the House, they simply need to do their jobs better. Mistakes like this should not happen.

  5. - Rob_N - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:08 am:

    The article states: “…allowing diners to carry resealed bottles home in a special tamper-proof, one-use-only bag…”

    If by “special tamper-proof, one-use-only bag” they mean Ziploc, yellow-and-blue-make-green gallon sized bags, then I suppose they’re right.

    I don’t have a habit of buying wine bottles at 5x the normal price, but I know others who do and I’ve never once seen a restaurant use anything other than a doggy bag or, at most, a Ziploc-type bag for a bottle with ‘leftover’ wine.

  6. - jerry 101 - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:12 am:

    heh. a law meant to curb drunken driving is being interpreted by the feds as promoting drunk driving.

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:27 am:

    Didn’t see that coming. The feds have some time on their hands to pick up on something like this. Drink up, folks.

  8. - Wumpus - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:42 am:

    Wow, I thought Madigan was on top of everything.

    This is IL, we don’t need the money for schools, roads, public transportation or anything like that anyway.

  9. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:09 am:

    Swell. We loose 23 MILLION in fed dollars because some snooty gold coasters want to take home the remainders of their Dom Perignon? Thank God the PC’ers of Chicago outlawed Foie Gras. Heaven only knows what it might have cost us.

  10. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:13 am:

    SPP- Silly Polly-It’s the wine makers and sellers from Southern Illinois who want the repackage law. It most be so hard when you can’t blame Northeastern Illinois for everything. Yes the feds are serious about this open alcohol in vehicles.

  11. - Skeeter - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:15 am:

    Goldcoasters would never bring Dom home. It is too difficult to maintain after it has been opened. Just not worth the hassle. Plus, you can usually get good Champagne by the half bottle anyway, so what’s the point? That bottle of Bordeaux with the main course, or the Riesling with the fish course? That’s a different matter altogether. That is not going to waste.

    Also, foie gras is back. Great stuff. You should try it. In the right hands, it is the highlight of a meal.

  12. - Skeeter - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    One more note — most of those “Goldcoasters” are taking cabs anyway. That’s part of the reason that they choose to live on the Gold Coast (or in Streeterville). With cabs, it has never been an issue. The law benefits the rich Du Page Republicans who hate Chicago but are willing to come to Chicago for a great meal (what would be known as the “bridge and tunnel crowd” in another major city).

    Bottom line: Stop blaming Chicago for your problems.

  13. - PhilCollins - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:37 am:

    Congress should eliminate all spending to state and local governments. Each year, some money that is earned in Illinois and sent to Washington, DC, in federal taxes, is sent back to the same places in which that money was earned, since the federal government sends money to the Illinois government and to the governments of many counties and cities. Some tax money that is earned in Illinois is sent to Washington, DC, and is later sent to the governments of many other states, although Illinois residents won’t benefit from that spending.

    Congress should eliminate that spending, saving about $450 billion, per year, which is about 24% of the federal budget. Since the federal government would need less money, they would pass an across-the-board 24% tax rate cut. They would give at least two years’ notice, to ensure that the state and local governments would have enough time to change their tax rates, to ensure that they will receive enough revenue.

  14. - Fan of the Game - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:02 am:


    That is far too logical to ever have a chance. If the federal government levied taxes only for those items for which it has Constitutional authority to do so, the states could have their own money to implement the building and programs they need.

    And that money would only have to go through one round of bureaucracy instead of two. The more layers of government handling a dollar, the more of that dollar that gets siphoned off.

  15. - cermak_rd - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:21 am:

    They should be able to amend the law in a day or two at most, right?

    And yeah, you never want to save sparkling wine after opening the bottle because it loses its fizz. Flat sparkling wine is, ummm, awful.

  16. - fan of cap fax - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 11:21 am:

    You’re smart, Phil Collins! Obviously why your music career has been so successful. But commom sense, prudent business practices do not work in government.

  17. - gray wolf - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 12:37 pm:

    a further federalization of state law,just like drug cases-we’re funding our own forfeiture of freedom

  18. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 1:09 pm:

    Meddling bureaurcrats where? At the federal level, for taking a year or so to review the law, or at the statehouse, where they should have caught the error at all.
    This smells like one of the laws reps do so when they’re meeting their donors they can say “See what I can get done for you?”

  19. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 3:54 pm:

    Skeeter - not my problem. I don’t drink. As to fois gras, I am a chef and as such was very disheartened when the PC crowd in ChiTown outlawed it. Do I detect a bit of scorn for the DuPage GOP crowd in your comments? Certainly they are closer cousins to DEM CROOK COUNTIANS than us lil ol’ downstaters. PS: An open bottle of Dom can make one helluva sauce for your foie gras. Add a little white truffle oil and a few truffle shavings and viola heaven on a plate!

  20. - Keyser Soze - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:01 pm:

    Please print the name of the federal bureaucrat who signed this dumb pronouncement. it is helpful to “out” the fools whenever possible.

  21. - Skeeter - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:07 pm:

    The bottom line here is that you blamed “Goldcoasters” when it is pretty clear that they had little to nothing to do with this stuff. It doesn’t matter much to them.
    It was all for the benefit of your locals.
    Why do you have such a difficult time taking responsibility?

  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:14 pm:

    Cullerton sponsored the bill, so the upper crusters must’ve had something to do with it. :)

  23. - Cat - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:19 pm:

    DOT will use the money to pay for the Traffic Safety move to Southern Illinois - to deal with alcohol problems there.

  24. - moderate Repub - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:54 pm:

    The bottom line here is that you blamed “Goldcoasters” when it is pretty clear that they had little to nothing to do with this stuff. It doesn’t matter much to them.

    Please, Cullerton sponsored the Bill. That has “Gold Coasters” all over it.

  25. - moderate Repub - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:55 pm:

    Sorry Rich, just read your comment, my bad.

  26. - Sweet Polly Purebred - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 2:41 am:

    Rich and Moderate Repub - Thank you! And Skeeter, just how does this doggie booze bag thing benefit an erstwhile chef in central Illinois???? Seems like it would benefit the Gold Coast restaurantuers alot more than me. Why do you have such a difficult time accepting responsibility???

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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